In And the Band Played On, when does the CDC realize HIV was blood-borne?

In And the Band Played On, I think it’d be safe to say that the CDC recognizes the blood-borne aspect of AIDS in 1981 and 1982. Those are the years when CDC officials begin to discover that AIDS was not limited to gay men, not exclusively a “gay disease.” It was a virus that could be spread in ways besides homosexual sex, like through blood transfusions and intravenous drug use.

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In Randy Shilts's comprehensive book on the start of the AIDS crisis, it seems like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) begins to figure out that AIDS can be transmitted through blood—that it is blood-borne—in the early 1980s, the years 1981 and 1982.

In the book, Shilts...

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In Randy Shilts's comprehensive book on the start of the AIDS crisis, it seems like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) begins to figure out that AIDS can be transmitted through blood—that it is blood-borne—in the early 1980s, the years 1981 and 1982.

In the book, Shilts tells about CDC researcher Mary Guinan. She began to suspect something in 1981. Then, AIDS was still mostly deemed gay cancer. Many doctors believed it was a virus that had something to do with gay sex and that it only impacted gay people who engaged in homosexual intercourse.

However, Guinan recognized several of the AIDS cases weren’t connected to gay men. They were linked to drug addicts or intravenous drug users. That observation made Guinan consider the possibility that hemophiliacs and blood transfusion recipients might be vulnerable to AIDS as well. Shilts writes,

They could be expected to pick up this bug too through blood products.

A year later in 1982, CDC doctor Don Francis finds out about how AIDS is impacting people in Zaire and Sudan. The virus was spreading through sex and through needle-sharing in local hospitals. The findings set Francis even more against “the sperm theory.” As Shilts says,

Gay men had been getting injected with sperm for centuries without getting aids.

There had to be more to AIDS than “sperm depository.”

Unfortunately, the CDC did not have a lot of money, so they did not have an easy time conducting research to prove their blood-borne hypothesis.

Yet throughout 1982, CDC officials continued to find further evidence to support their blood-borne hypothesis. By the end of 1982, more and more reports of non-homosexual AIDS cases were reported and publicized.

By the start of 1983, the blood banks of the United States and the CDC were in a big battle. The blood banks, not wanting to disrupt their industry, refused to act on the CDC’s claims that AIDS could be spread via blood.

According to Shilts,

Blood bankers were openly skeptical of the CDC claims that AIDS could be transmitted through blood. Some FDA officials remained unconvinced that AIDS even existed.

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