Health

30 years later, fight against AIDS not over

Thursday, December 01, 2011

It's been 30 years since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in the United States. With no cure in sight, President Barack Obama set a goal on Thursday to boost spending for life-saving treatment for people with AIDS.

In San Francisco, a reunion of nurses and staff who treated the first AIDS patients at San Francisco General Hospital more than 30 years ago. At that time, Diane Jones didn't know what she was getting into.

"These are old friends -- comrades -- and they really became part of my family 30 years ago," said Jones. "We were all very young back then."

Brad Hare is now the director of Ward 86, the outpatient clinic. While AIDS is still very much a gay man's disease, it has certainly affected other communities.

"We're seeing a lot of Latino patients, African-American patients, injection drug users from all over San Francisco," said Hare. "So it's not really a face of HIV, it's a lot of different faces."

During his remarks on World AIDS Day at George Washington University, Obama pledged to increase spending on HIV treatment here and in other countries.

In San Francisco, people celebrated the 20th anniversary of the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.

"We must realize that the fight is not over," said John Cunningham, the ex-director of the National AIDS Memorial. "Every hour, on the hour, the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashes, losing all of the passengers to AIDS."

"It was a scary place at a scary time," said AIDS patient Steve Ibarra. "I think our community, we've learned how to deal with death, and also we've become tougher."

The grove is still a beacon of hope for many.

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AIDS, health, lyanne melendez
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