Forty years ago, researchers described the mysterious cases of five gay men who had fallen ill with a pneumonia caused by the bacteria Pneumocystis carinii. Two of the five men had already died.
That type of pneumonia usually affects only individuals who are severely immunocompromised, researchers wrote in the June 5, 1981 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Scientists would soon discover that a disease that would come to be known as AIDS was devastating the men’s immune systems.
Three years later, scientists pinned the blame for AIDS on a virus dubbed HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. Margaret Heckler, the then-U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in an
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