ROBERT MAASS/CORBIS
AIDS: A memorial service in Central Park tallies the dead in 1983

July 27, 1982
A Name for the Plague

Almost everybody who had an interest in the situation was represented there that pleasant summer Tuesday in Washington, including gay-community leaders, federal bureaucrats and the investigative team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that had taken a lead role in tracking the situation. What was it? A disease that just 13 months earlier had blipped on the CDC's radar screen was rapidly turning epidemic, particularly among gay men and drug addicts. Yet no one agreed on what to call it.

Because the disease critically weakened the immune system and was often accompanied by a rare cancer, it had been labeled gay-related immune deficiency, or GRID, by some people, gay cancer by others. It wasn't, however, restricted to gays. At the meeting, a less exclusive name was suggested: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The acronym had staying power—as has the epidemic. More than 22 million people worldwide have died of AIDS over the past two decades, and today 42 million others live with the virus that causes it. New medicines have made it possible for those who have the disease to lead productive lives, but there is still no cure.

TIME Cover Collection: Click here to see covers from 1982

Previous: Sept. 20, 1980 Next: March 8, 1983


Reader's Choice Results
Find out what TIME readers said were the most life-changing days of the past 80 years


July 4, 1983
Cover search since 1923


ADVERTISEMENT


FROM THE MARCH 31, 2003 ISSUE OF TIME MAGAZINE; POSTED SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Subscribe | Customer Service | Help | Site Map | Search | Contact Us
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Reprints & Permissions | Press Releases | Media Kit