ADDED ON: 03/17/2020

Coronavirus: Three Lessons from the AIDS Crisis

03/16/2020 | Towle Road

As of March 15, Seattle had recorded 420 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths. As a historian of 20th-century queer and trans politics, I know that’s nothing compared to the toll that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, took on our city. But these are early days. The U.S. made serious mistakes when the HIV virus and AIDS emerged. Those errors cost many lives. But our nation learned a few things, too. HIV is very different from the novel coronavirus, in ways that could have made it easier to slow down. Since HIV is harder to transmit, and its incubation period is much longer, a swift response could have prevented many infections. But the response was slow. It took health experts decades just to notice HIV. Studies have shown that HIV jumped from animals into humans sometime in the 1920s, and had already killed lots of people by 1981, but doctors thought those patients died of other things.


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