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Shattered Dreams?An Oral History of the South African AIDS Epidemic$
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Gerald M. Oppenheimer and Ronald Bayer

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307306

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195307306.001.0001

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The Forgotten Epidemic

The Forgotten Epidemic

(p.21) 1 The Forgotten Epidemic
Shattered Dreams?

Gerald M. Oppenheimer

Ronald Bayer

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the emergence of AIDS in white gay men in Cape Town and Johannesburg in the early and mid-1980s, at a time when therapeutic impotence characterized the clinical response to HIV in Europe and America. After establishing the social and legal status of homosexuality in South Africa, it introduces a number of physicians, many of whom were themselves gay, who watched with astonishment as their young male patients began to die. Despite the denial of the AIDS epidemic by members of the gay community, the discriminatory restrictions on AIDS treatment put in place by hospitals, the homophobia of the medical profession and the indifference of the state, these few gay doctors struggled to treat their patients and to let them die with dignity. As AIDS appeared in the South African Black population, recollections of this earlier epidemic dimmed and disappeared.

Keywords:   HIV infection, early AIDS epidemic, epidemic, homosexuality, gay community, homophobia, denial, discrimination, South Africa, history

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