Thursday, June 2, 2011

Smithsonian Marks 30 Years of HIV/AIDS

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is marking the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDs in America with a dedicated Website — expected to debut tomorrow, June 3 — and posts at its blog. Plans include a showcase exhibit, a three-part archival display providing historical context for the look back. 

As this post indicates, the early phase of the global pandemic — the years 1981-1987 — and scientific, political, and cultural responses to the emergence of HIV/AIDS will be the focus of "HIV and AIDS Thirty Years Ago". This part of the showcase will feature magazine covers, photographs, equipment used by Dr. Jay A. Levy to isolate HIV in his University of California laboratory, a 1986 Surgeon General's report presenting the U.S. Government's approach, public health information pamphlets from HIV/AIDS service organizations, needle exchange objects, and samples of Retrovir and AZT, two of the first drugs formulated to slow the spread of infection with the virus and treat the development of AIDS.

The Archives Center at the museum, which has been collecting for years objects and ephemera relating to HIV/AIDS,  will present "Archiving the History of an Epidemic: HIV and AIDS, 1985-2009". In this part of the display, attention will be given to how society generally and homosexual American males in particular were affected by HIV/AIDS and its spread. Archival materials will include posters from the films Philadelphia (1993; see the trailer) and Longtime Companion (1989; see the trailer), ACT UP posters, demonstration flyers, red ribbons, t-shirts, brochures, photographs, and quotes from oral histories of persons with HIV or AIDs or otherwise involved in or affected by the disease and activities to curb its spread.

Image to Left: Silence = Death Project Poster, 1987

A third section will comprise a panel from the AIDS Memorial Quilt of the Names Project Foundation, honoring Roger Lyon, who died from AIDS in 1984, shortly after appealing to the U.S. Congress for funding for research, drugs, information, and other tools to address the growing public health crisis.

In Memory of Roger Lyon
AIDS Memorial Quilt, Panel (detail)
National Museum of American History 

National Museum of American History on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr

The Reports of the Surgeon General: The AIDS Epidemic

"This Is Not a Gay Issue. This is a Human Issue." Early AIDS Patients Recount Their Experiences With the Disease 

The Names Foundation IDS Memorial Quilt on YouTube (When first displayed in 1987, the AIDS Memorial Quilt comprised 1,920 panels. By 2007, it included more than 46,000 panels representing more than 80,000 individuals. It continues to enlarge.)

Statistical Summary for HIV/AIDS (Also see the CDC data.)


Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you for posting this.

Megan Willome said...

Thank you! Any discussion of the early treatment of AIDS should include Dr. Abraham Verghese's book "My Own Country."

Ken said...

The re:solve AIDS project is raising money to get a promising AIDS vaccine through human testing so that it can be produced and made available to the public. Check it out