Thesis

How to create policy in an epidemic: AIDS in Sacramento, 1981-1989

The disease that would become known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first identified in June of 1981. The original Center for Disease Control article identified five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, an opportunistic infection, in otherwise healthy men in Los Angeles. The article speculated that there was a potential relationship between the patients’ homosexual “life-style” and their infections. The association of AIDS with a gay life-style and the LGBT community’s decision to embrace AIDS as community cause profoundly influenced AIDS history. This thesis explores the differing agendas of Sacramento city/county’s public health officials and Sacramento’s LGBT community and how they were based on differing understandings of AIDS. These two intersected in the creation of the first public document regarding AIDS in Sacramento, the published findings of the 1986 Mayor’s AIDS Task Force. 
 
 The 1986 Mayor’s AIDS Task Force provided the framework for this project, supplemented by primary source material from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society in San Francisco and the Center for Sacramento History. Newspapers, both from the gay and mainstream press in Sacramento, also provided valuable context for Sacramento during the 1980s. Additional sources consulted to provide context include books and journal articles on the AIDS epidemic, LGBT history, AIDS activism, and the cultural and linguistic construction of AIDS.

Thesis (M.A., History (Public History)) -- California State University, Sacramento, 2010.

The disease that would become known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first identified in June of 1981. The original Center for Disease Control article identified five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, an opportunistic infection, in otherwise healthy men in Los Angeles. The article speculated that there was a potential relationship between the patients’ homosexual “life-style” and their infections. The association of AIDS with a gay life-style and the LGBT community’s decision to embrace AIDS as community cause profoundly influenced AIDS history. This thesis explores the differing agendas of Sacramento city/county’s public health officials and Sacramento’s LGBT community and how they were based on differing understandings of AIDS. These two intersected in the creation of the first public document regarding AIDS in Sacramento, the published findings of the 1986 Mayor’s AIDS Task Force. The 1986 Mayor’s AIDS Task Force provided the framework for this project, supplemented by primary source material from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society in San Francisco and the Center for Sacramento History. Newspapers, both from the gay and mainstream press in Sacramento, also provided valuable context for Sacramento during the 1980s. Additional sources consulted to provide context include books and journal articles on the AIDS epidemic, LGBT history, AIDS activism, and the cultural and linguistic construction of AIDS.

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