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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 349 > THE EARLY DAYS OF THE BATTLE


With the recent 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day highlighting just how long we have been dealing with HIV and AIDS, Peter Dunne speaks to clinical virologist, Marty St Clair about the moment she helped discover the medication which would give hope to a ravaged community.

When we think of those early battles against HIV and AIDS, one of the groundbreaking moments was the discovery of AZT – an antiretroviral which could tackle HIV at a time when there seemed no answer.

Marty explains: “In the United States the first indications that we had a new syndrome, which eventually became known as HIV AIDS, was in 1981 when Michael Botley reported on a small group of his patients who were young white males who had pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, which prior to that time had only been seen in very aged men who were close to death. The numbers increased astronomically. Within just a few months we already had several hundred people with this new syndrome and already we were observing a 50 percent fatality rate. Within a few years we had thousands of people, and maintained that 50 percent fatality rate. It was obviously a new disease which was spreading rapidly, causing a great deal of apprehension, fear, stigma. Mostly due to a lack of information and ignorance about how it was spread. It was truly a terrifying time.

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About GCN

We’re closing our 30th anniversary celebrations with a bang, celebrating the year of the activist. With that in mind, we arranged for community leaders to speak to the next generation of trailblazers as both sides share their experiences. A Brazilian writer living in Ireland takes a look at his home country following the election of Bolsonaro, while Marty St Clair, one of the scientists behind the discovery of AZT, speaks about the beginnings of the battle against HIV and AIDS. Frank McDonald stops by to talk about his recently released memoirs. There’s an essential look at mental health in the queer community, and the people behind the awesome Dublin Lesbian Line tell us their plans for the future. You can also expect a roundup of a momentous year for LGBTQI+ folk and your community magazine. We couldn’t have done it without you, dear readers!