Fauci and HIV and Now Coronavirus, Sounds Like DeJaVu

I have written several articles on Dr. Fauci. A list of the links have been provided at the bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on Dr. Fauci’s career.

Anthony Stephen Fauci (born December 24, 1940) is an American physician and immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984. Since January 2020, he has been one of the lead members of the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Fauci is one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, and during the early stages of the pandemic The New Yorker and The New York Times described Fauci as one of the most trusted medical figures in the United States.

As a physician with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Fauci has served American public health in various capacities for more than 50 years, and has been an advisor to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan. He has made contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiency diseases, both as a scientist and as the head of the NIAID at the NIH. From 1983 to 2002, Fauci was one of the world’s most frequently-cited scientists across all scientific journals.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, current director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, in 1984.

** Dr. Fauci claimed that AIDS might be transmissible by “routine close contact, as within a family household.” (May 5, 1983, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA). (Michael Fumento, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, p. 237). It is apparent that he had little knowledge of the disease process than. It is amazing that he learned so little from this paper, when he repeated the same mistake with Covid-19. He again made suppositions and claims with little scientific foundations. As in 1983, his claims and proclamations had major impacts on our country and way of life. In 1983, people were afraid to even shake hands and kiss loved ones. Now in 2020, people have to stay 6 feet apart and wear two masks, and can’t go to school or go to work or even exercise outdoors. Thank god people are coming to their senses and are no longer listening to this charlatan. But at what cost to our country? (Update 6/1/2021)

** Dr. Fauci claimed that ten percent of the HIV/AIDS infected would be heterosexual—more than two and half times the rate – four percent – it actually was.

** On February 15, 1987, then conservative columnist George Will said to Dr. Fauci that HIV/AIDS was principally a homosexual affliction and that it was not exploding and Fauci quickly replied, “That’s not correct. The percentage of individuals who have gotten AIDS by heterosexual transmission is about four percent now. It is projected that that number will be up in 1991 to about 10 percent.”

This ten percent claim was a standard talking point of his. “We expect 10 percent of U.S. AIDS to be heterosexually transmitted by 1991,” he said, citing, Scientific References, Group I: The Epidemiology of AIDS. HIV/AIDS in the heterosexual community has never been more than four percent.

Which brings us to today–NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci is amassing quite a record these past three months.

** In January Dr. Anthony Fauci told Newsmax TV that the United States did not have to worry about the coronavirus.
Now, three months later, he wants to shut down every state!

** Dr. Fauci warned of an apocalyptic pandemic and later compared the coronavirus to a bad flu.

** Dr. Fauci based all of his predictions on models and then told reporters this past week, “You can’t really rely on models.”

And on March 20th Dr. Fauci “corrected” the president during a press briefing on hydroxychloroquine saying, “You got to be careful when you say ‘fairly effective.’ It was never done in a clinical trial… It was given to individuals and felt that maybe it worked.”

** Exactly two weeks later hydroxychloroquine has been deemed the most highly rated treatment for the novel coronavirus in an international poll of more than 6,000 doctors. Will the liberal media report any of this?

The fight against HIV:

Anthony S. Fauci and Deborah Birx walked side-by-side in the 1980s on hospital rounds, watching young men die of a mysterious disease that had no cure. The disease was so deadly that when Birx lost a large amount of blood giving birth in 1983 at the hospital where she worked, she screamed at the physician not to give her a transfusion, concerned about tainted blood. After childbirth, she resumed researching the disease under Fauci’s tutelage. That disease would soon be known as HIV/AIDS. Birx and Fauci have worked together every year since on successful efforts to manage the illness and on a continuing search for a cure and vaccine.

The fight against the Coronavirus:

Now, 37 years after they first worked together, the longtime allies often stand at the White House with President Trump to brief the nation about the novel coronavirus, while they privately join forces to try to convince the president that more economically painful measures are needed to stem the outbreak. In doing so, and in walking a tightrope between their science-driven views and the president’s reliance on gut feelings, they have drawn criticism from the left and the right. The story of how they walk that line is rooted in the way they have relied heavily on each other for decades and on the lessons they learned fighting another disease that initially had no treatment, they both said in separate interviews with The Washington Post.

“No one will understand what it was like to be a fully trained physician at a time when you thought you were relatively knowledgeable and have patients dying and unable to stop it. And unable to know what it was,” said Birx, 64, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator. “And I think that drew both of us to conquering infectious disease . . . because once you had that devastating experience, you don’t want to live that in any epidemic again.”

Fauci, 79, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, recalled it similarly. “We’ve known each other so long, and we’ve been through so much, the good times and the bad times, the successes, the failures,” he said. “So we’re kind of like two veterans that have been through a bunch of wars together.” When they realized they were going to work together advising the White House on how to fight the coronavirus, Fauci said, they told each other: “Well, here we go again, we’re back together again.”

The two doctors and a number of their associates said that even though HIV/AIDS is a very different disease from covid-19, the disease the coronavirus caused, the lessons from their prior work are clear. In both cases, there was early misunderstanding about the seriousness of the illness, the government was slow to react, and the initial response relied on behavioral changes while a longer-term solution was sought.

Now their task is to apply those lessons, but their effort to work alongside Trump has led to some jarring statements, and there were some initial questions about whether they were entirely in sync. Fauci has been both hailed and pilloried for his blunt refutation of some of Trump’s declarations, such as when he told Science magazine, “I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down” when the president makes an incorrect statement.

Birx, meanwhile, recently told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the president “has been so attentive to the details and the data,” adding that he has been “attentive to the scientific literature.” Given Trump’s well-documented aversion to reviewing written briefing materials, her comment was mocked by President Bill Clinton’s former press secretary Joe Lockhart, who derided her on Twitter for having “drunk the Kool Aid” and urged that she tell the truth to Trump about the depth of the crisis. Birx defended her comments, telling The Post her job as a public servant is to make sure Trump understands the data, and she said he has “asked the right questions.”

By the time Birx and Fauci briefed Trump about what would happen if social distancing guidelines were lifted prematurely, they presented such a unified voice that the president dropped his desire to end restrictions in time for Easter Sunday and agreed with them that at least an additional 30 days was needed. Can Deborah Birx save us from the coronavirus? Birx, according to Fauci, is in a more difficult position because she is a political appointee who can be dismissed at any moment, while he is relatively protected in his role as an administrator in the NIH system. While they both have served presidents of both parties going back to the Reagan administration, he is used to speaking bluntly without fear of reprisal. That has been the case since the two met in 1983.

HIV Revisited:

Birx was an Army captain working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Fauci worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he would become director the following year. She devoted herself to discovering a treatment for the disease killing so many around her. That work evolved as she served her fellowship in Fauci’s laboratory, and the two then spent several decades working together to find a therapy or cure for HIV/AIDS.

“We were in the middle of it,” Fauci said. “We were both taking care of HIV-infected individuals, me here at NIH, her across town at Walter Reed. And it was dark years for both of us. We were taking care of patients, and they were all dying.” Birx recalled that she would make rounds at the clinical center at NIH and then return to her post at Walter Reed, where hundreds of soldiers in their 20s and 30s suffered from a little-understood disease. “You can’t imagine the devastation,” Birx said. “And I think that’s why both of us, when we see what’s happening at the front lines with the health-care workers [caring for coronavirus patients], that’s an experience we have both been in.”

Nelson Michael, who worked with Fauci and Birx at the time, said the bonding experience of watching patients die was “no different than combat veterans” who saw their fellow soldiers killed. Michael, who now is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said he told Fauci recently that the fight against the coronavirus reminded him of their battle against HIV in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and he agreed. “For those of us who grew up and fought the HIV war, and are still fighting it quite honestly, this pandemic hits us really hard,” Michael said.

In the early 1980s, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was on the rise and prominent among homosexual men in the bathhouse culture Randy Shilts chronicled in

And the Band Played On. A Shilts wrote, “The bathhouses were a horrible breeding ground for disease.” That reality had already emerged in the 1983 How to Have Sex in an Epidemic, by Richard Berkowitz and Michael Callen, fully endorsed by Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, one of the first to identify AIDS.

Sonnabend thought the cytomegalovirus (CMV) could be a factor but as the pamphlet explains, no “new” virus had been shown to play a “causative role in the disease.” To avoid AIDS, the pamphlet warned about unprotected anal sex, along with “swallowing piss” and the practice of “rimming” also known as analingus, activity that could not be made “risk free.”

How to Have Sex in an Epidemic also cited the amyl and butyl nitrite “poppers,” heavily used in the bathhouse culture. On those drugs, the authors say, “the jury is still out” but in conclusion:  “the party that was the ‘70s is over,” and “the AIDS crisis may prove to have been a crystal clear reflection of just how little we knew about protecting our health.”

As Michael Specter explains in the New Yorker, “at first, scientists wondered if the disease was related solely to the lifestyles of those who fell ill,” but then a “new” virus appeared. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), some researchers contended, takes control of the entire immune system, and HIV as the sole cause of AIDS became the default view. One of the skeptics was UC Berkeley molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, a pioneer in the study of retroviruses.

In 1986, Duesberg was invited to join the National Academy of Sciences and mentioned as possible candidate for a Nobel Prize. In 1987, Duesberg wrote “Retroviruses as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality,’’ contending that HIV was not the primary cause of AIDS and not even a contributing factor. The molecular biologist also saw a role for lifestyle and behavioral factors such as intravenous drugs and the amyl and butyl nitrite inhalers. That put Duesberg at odds with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was not a virologist.

Fauci earned his MD from Cornell and was appointed director of NIAID in 1984. On his watch, NIAID became the largest funder of what is now called HIV/AIDS. Fauci testified to Congress, as Jon Cohen noted in Science, “often about the HIV/AIDS budget and other issues related to the epidemic.” Scientists who questioned the official cause of AIDS included Kary Mullis, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovery of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In the foreword to Duesberg’s Inventing the AIDS Virus, Mullis wrote, “We have not been able to find a good reason why most of the people believe that AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV. There is simply no scientific evidence demonstrating that is true.”

Virology is a science, but instead of debate the NIAID boss opted for denunciation. After listening to Duesberg, Fauci said, “This is murder. It’s really just that simple,” not exactly a nuanced statement. As Phillip Boffey noted in the New York Times, no scientist involved in AIDS had provided a detailed response to Duesberg. In 2010, the UC Berkeley professor became the target of a misconduct investigation, Greg Miller of  Science Insider reports, possibly initiated by an AIDS activist. Duesberg survived, and his work never got the attention it deserved.

Though no longer of epidemic proportions, “HIV/AIDS” has bulked up federal bureaucracies such as the Centers for Disease Control. Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci has held sway at NIAID for 36 years. Like other denizens of the deep state, Fauci remains in power as politicians move in and out of office. If those at risk for coronavirus thought Fauci has been around too long it would be hard to blame them.

As Angelo Codevilla notes, intelligent decisions on countermeasures require hard data, but doctors such as Anthony Fauci have been “scaring the hell out of people and watching curves based on projections based on meaningless numbers.”

After a decade of research, scientists who received funding from Fauci’s institute discovered that a combination of antiretroviral drugs could be used to manage, but not cure, the disease. “That success changed both our lives at the same time,” Fauci said of himself and Birx. They pivoted to how to help HIV patients around the world and to finding a cure. Fauci and Birx soon pushed for one of the most difficult challenges in medicine: a vaccine to prevent HIV.

Unlike a vaccine against infections such as the coronavirus, which theoretically can be based on how a person’s immune system fights back, an HIV vaccine would have to work differently and is considered far more difficult. Birx, in her role as the director of the HIV research program at Walter Reed, pushed for a vaccine trial in Thailand, working with that country’s military.

The idea was criticized by some in the scientific community who doubted the test could be successful and thought funds could be better spent on managing the disease. Birx was far short of the needed funding. Then, in 2001, the Pentagon proposed eliminating her budget to fight HIV/AIDS. Fauci came to the rescue. After meeting with Birx, he helped convince the Pentagon to keep its funding and then pledged his institute’s money to bolster the vaccine budget. It was a defining moment in their relationship, he said. “When I invested those tens of millions of dollars to support Deb’s trial, people criticized me for that,” Fauci said. “People in the scientific community said, ‘You are wasting money, you shouldn’t be spending money on a trial that may not work.’ But we forged ahead.” Fauci was ready for this. America was not. The trial started in Thailand and resulted in an efficacy rate of 31 percent, which Fauci considered “one of the high points” of his partnership with Birx, a modest success that was good enough to lead to larger trials in South Africa.

Birx, after serving as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS, was named in 2014 by President Obama to be the U.S. ambassador on global efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. At her swearing-in ceremony, she praised Obama for “his bold leadership” and lauded her new boss, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, for his “amazing, long-standing and unyielding commitment” to fighting HIV/AIDS. She remains in her ambassadorial role during the Trump administration, making her an Obama holdover.

While she and Fauci spend “every working hour” on science related to infectious diseases, she said, they have often crossed paths personally. She said they both have daughters who participated in the same cross-country meets, and she has seen him “cheering on his daughter like I cheered on mine. I’ve seen him as a father. I’ve seen him as a husband. . . . We’ve shared things on a scientific and a personal level. He’s just been a fixture in my life for the entire time.”

Given their partnership, they have been together on countless panels, including a December 2017 appearance at an AIDS forum at The Washington Post, at which they expressed optimism about the vaccine trials in South Africa. In January, it was announced that one of the trials had failed, but Fauci stressed in the interview that others are continuing and hold promise.

It was around that time that the seriousness of the coronavirus was becoming apparent in the United States. In late February, while Birx was attending an AIDS conference in Africa, Vice President Pence named her as White House coronavirus response coordinator. After an overnight flight from Africa, Birx arrived at the White House for a meeting of the virus task force, on which Fauci was already serving in his role as the government’s leading infectious disease specialist. A key challenge for Fauci and Birx has been to deliver realistic, science-driven assessments of the growing crisis to the public, even as the president sometimes gives conflicting and incorrect statements and espouses his own theories.

Over the past several months, Trump has said the virus “miraculously goes away” by April, that “we have it totally under control” and that anyone who wants a test can get one. A photo of Fauci at one briefing with Trump, in which he puts a hand to a lowered forehead as if in disbelief, has been widely published. Washington Post Live: Fauci and Birx on the national and global HIV/AIDS outlook. Myron Cohen, who has known Fauci and Birx since the 1980s, said the pair are too driven by science and data to be subject to political pressure. “They’re scientists, and they’re public health officials,” said Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina’s Department of Medicine. “They’re not politicians. They lay out the facts. . . . This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and these are the right people.”

On April 7th, Fauci and Birx faced their greatest challenge so far in advising the president. Trump had said he wanted to end federal guidance on social distancing by April 12, which the two doctors argued would result in a massive death toll. They traveled to the White House to persuade Trump to drop his idea. Birx, the data expert, brought along charts. Fauci, who has excelled in communicating complex ideas in layman’s terms, brought his blunt style and backed Birx.

Fauci and Birx stood in the Oval Office with their charts, leaned over the Resolute Desk and asked Trump to examine the data. The charts showed that if Trump’s idea was pursued, more than 2 million people could die. But if social distancing and stay-at-home policies were followed nationally for 30 days, then there would be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. “I guess we got to do it,” the president said.

Speaking at a White House briefing on Tuesday, Trump essentially said he had entrusted the nation’s future to what he was told by the pair of doctors, whom he referred to as Tony and Deb. When a reporter asked Trump what he believed the death toll would be if the public followed social distancing restrictions, the president said, “I’d rather them say the numbers.”

As crushing as the virus crisis has been, Fauci said he and Birx are confident this fight is winnable, in part because a vaccine against the coronavirus probably can be developed with known scientific strategies that should pay off within the next 18 months, much faster than their continuing efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

“When you talk about how did the experience that we had back then inform what Deb and I do now, it’s kind of like deja vu all over again,” Fauci said. “Here we are up on the stage in the press room in the White House. Turn back the clock 35 years, and that’s us talking about HIV. So that’s what we mean when we sort of look at each other and sort of say under our breath, ‘Been there, done that.’ ”

In Summary:

The trouble with relying too heavily on expert opinion is that it is often flawed and alarmist. Worse, bureaucrats don’t pay any of the costs of getting it wrong—something we are learning all too well as much of the country remains under house arrest and our economy in tatters. Dr. Anthony Fauci has become a prominent public face in the course of the coronavirus crisis. As the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has a key role on President Trump’s coronavirus task force.  How likely is it that a 79-year-old has new insights into running a federal bureaucracy during a pandemic? Indeed, we always fight the last war. For Fauci, that war is HIV/AIDS.

 Let’s look at Fauci’s public utterances in his very long career at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci allowed himself to be bullied by HIV/AIDS activists, once claiming at a conference that researchers “do not have a lock on correctness.” Fauci complimented the activists and worked hard to be on their side, according to the book, Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Then, as now, Fauci mastered manipulating the press. He quickly dismissed other scientists with ad hominem attacks, claiming that the risk to the general population of HIV/AIDS was orders of magnitude larger than it actually was. In fact, HIV/AIDS transmissions in the United States outside of the intravenous drug user and homosexual community remain extremely rare. For those gay men suffering from HIV/AIDS, Fauci put up lots of red tape for them until he finally relented in 1989.

Fauci failed to cure HIV/AIDS despite tens of billions of dollars going to his work over the years—something else to keep in mind as he dismisses the latest European research on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, an ultracheap drug first developed by Bayer in the 1930s. Instead, two gay men were cured of HIV—not in America and not by the NIH—but by scientists in London and Berlin respectively. And cheaply too. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait decades to restart our economy while we wait around for him to find a cure.


thegatewaypundit.com, “Fauci Fun Facts: Dr. Fauci’s AIDS Predictions Were Also WAY OFF THE MARK,” By Jim Hoft; washingtonpost.com, “Fauci and Birx worked together at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. Thirty-seven years later, they are partners in fighting the coronavirus.” By Michael Kranish; en.wikipedia.org, “Anthony Fauci,” By Wikipedia editors; cnsnews.com, “Fauci: No Vaccine for HIV/AIDS, SARS — But Coronavirus Is ‘Really Unprecedented'”, By Susan Jones; usatoday.com, “Fauci guided US through AIDS crisis, too. Survivors say it’s a roadmap for coronavirus.” By Tony Plohetski; amgreatness.com, “What Docotr Fauci Got Wrong,” By Semmelweis; gellereport.com, “Deep State Doctor Anthony Fauci,” By Lloyd Lloyd Billingsley;


Fauci’s Career:

In 1968, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In 1974, he became Head of the Clinical Physiology Section, LCI, and in 1980 was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. In 1984, he became director of NIAID, a position he still holds as of 2020.  In that role he is responsible for an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research on infectious and immune-mediated illnesses. He has turned down several offers to lead his agency’s parent, the NIH, and has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to contend with viral diseases like HIV/AIDSSARS, the 2009 swine flu pandemicMERSEbola and COVID-19. He played a significant role in the early 2000s in creating the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and in driving development of biodefense drugs and vaccines following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fauci has been a visiting professor at many medical centers, and has received 30 honorary doctorates from universities in the U.S. and abroad.

Medical Achievements:

Fauci has made important scientific observations that contributed to the understanding of regulation of the human immune response, and is recognized for delineating the mechanisms whereby immunosuppressive agents adapt to that response. He developed therapies for formerly fatal diseases such as polyarteritis nodosagranulomatosis with polyangiitis, and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. In a 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey of the American Rheumatism Association, membership ranked Fauci’s work on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and granulomatosis with polyangiitis as one of the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years. President Barack Obama greets Fauci in June 2014 Fauci has contributed to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body’s defenses leading to the progression to AIDS. He has outlined the mechanisms of induction of HIV expression by endogenous cytokines. Fauci has worked to develop strategies for the therapy and immune reconstitution of patients with the disease, as well as for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. His current research is concentrated on identifying the nature of the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body’s immune responses to HIV.

Excerpts from Fauci interview with Fox News Host Ingrham:

I have to tell you the degree of efficiency of transmissibility in this is really unprecedented in anything I’ve seen. It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmitting from one person to another. These kind of viruses don’t just disappear.

Host Laura Ingraham noted that there is no vaccine for HIV/AIDS or even SARS, but “life did go on.”

“Well, no, but this is different,” Fauci said:

HIV/AIDS is entirely different. We don’t have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, but we have spectacularly effective treatment. People who invariably would have died years ago right now are leading essentially normal lives. SARS is a different story. SARS disappeared. We developed a vaccine — we were in the process of going through the various phases. We showed it was safe, we showed it induced a good response and then SARS disappeared, and we didn’t need to develop a vaccine for SARS. So I think it’s a little bit misleading maybe to compare what we are going through now with HIV or SARS. They’re really different.

Comparing Aids and Covid-19:

AIDS and COVID-19 introduced themselves in similar whirlwinds of terror, but experts point out significant differences in the two diseases. Both attacked victims indiscriminately as scientists and doctors scrambled to trace the viruses’ origins and find effective treatments and vaccines. Both diseases share a particularly devilish characteristic: Those who lack symptoms can carry and unknowingly transmit the virus. HIV and AIDS have killed 32 million people since the early 1980s, and nearly 75 million have been infected, according to the World Health Organization. In the USA, about 700,000 people have died of HIV and AIDS. In the months since COVID-19 appeared in China, estimates indicate more than 31 million people have been diagnosed with the virus worldwide, and nearly 960,000 have died, including more than 200,000 Americans.

In both instances, scientists and doctors studied why certain populations are more at risk. In the case of AIDS, doctors discovered that gay men were more susceptible both because of the way they had sexual contact and because the stigma of their sexual identity made them less likely to seek medical care. Doctors are still learning about COVID-19 but have established that those with underlying health conditions seem to be most at-risk of dying. Those in the African American community who have less access to health care resources seem to be the most vulnerable. For example, 70% of Louisiana’s COVID-19 deaths were of black patients, even though they make up only 30% of the state’s population.

Unlike AIDS, which is transmitted through sexual contact or a blood transfusion, COVID-19 can be contracted through far more casual contact, similar to the flu or a stomach virus. In the earliest days of HIV, many people who contracted the virus did not survive. “Literally back then, when you started having symptoms, they would go in, and we never knew if they would come out,” said Eugene Sepulveda, an Austin philanthropist and former chair of the city and county’s HIV Commission from 1994 to 1996. “A lot survived, and then others didn’t.” Most people diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered, and untold thousands have mild or no symptoms. Gay men who lived through the early days of AIDS pointed out that COVID-19 doesn’t carry the shame they suffered in the early days of HIV.

David Wright, an Austin doctor who treated many of the city’s earliest AIDS patients, said hospice care grew in popularity during that era. Most patients died with friends and family at their bedsides. “With (COVID-19), it eliminates any continued contact with people who are facing maybe the last days or hours of their life, and it is incredibly difficult, not only for patients and medical staff but also families, to abide by this concept of social distancing for people who are in the process of dying,” Wright said. Health experts worldwide say society will probably be forced to adjust to life with COVID-19, similar to how people, especially gay men, adapted to the AIDS outbreak. Those who were sexually active had to establish new cultural norms for intimate interactions. “Gay men had to learn to relate to one another with shields and barriers,” said Perry Halkitis, a dean of the Rutgers University school of public health and a specialist in HIV/AIDS prevention. “Here is exactly another new normal.”

Similarly, health officials expect that for some time, people may be forced to wear masks or face coverings to curb the spread of COVID-19. New York and Maryland have made face shields mandatory, as has Austin. It’s also likely people will eschew traditional hugs or handshakes. The AIDS epidemic ushered in an era of education and civil rights advancements for the LGBTQ community. Those who were deeply involved in the response said they learned the importance of outreach, especially in minority and poor communities, where accurate information about the spread of the virus was lacking. They learned to tailor their message for specific audiences. “To expect people to do something because we told them, that didn’t bring about organic change,” Mitulski said. “It involves education and conversation.”

Dr. Fauci Postings