Was thinking about similarities and differences between the reaction to AIDS and to SARS-2. AIDS hit much more slowly, of course. It was way more dangerous per customer, but it was obvious early on that it was only spreading in a small fraction of the population.
The health authorities such as the CDC didn’t believe in quarantine then, either, and they prevailed. They were wrong, of course. They spent a lot of effort trying to convince the public that HIV was a significant threat to straight men and women: that was a lie. Presumably it was motivated by the probably-correct notion that people wouldn’t give a shit unless they were personally threatened, or possibly just because. Wiki is still doing its part to further nonsense on this topic: ” Announcements by various celebrities that they had contracted HIV (including actor Rock Hudson, basketball star Magic Johnson, tennis player Arthur Ashe and singer Freddie Mercury) were significant in arousing media attention and making the general public aware of the dangers of the disease to people of all sexual orientations.” Arthur Ashe got a bad transfusion: as for the others, what do you think?
Although it really did manage to spread in the general population in Sub-Saharan Africa – but not much elsewhere.
I don’t remember if the CDC bought into this particular bit of madness, but some local health types argued that gay bathhouses should be kept open because it allowed efficient distribution of educational leaflets, which presumably had an effect like saltpetre.
It took time for people to realize what was causing the disease: nobody had much experience with retroviral infections, or with immunosuppression caused by a contagious disease. Molecular biology was much less advanced than it is today.
For a while, some suspected that it might be an effect of some newly popular drug used by gay men – this never seemed likely to me, but in the first few months, when information was scarce, the idea wasn’t crazy. Peter Duesberg, noted virologist, bought into that and never let go – but then, he was crazy. Still is.
Crazy, because after a while there were transfusion cases, which clearly showed that AIDS was caused by a communicable agent. Some famous people died that way, like Isaac Asimov and Arthur Ashe. These cases were made more likely by blood banks that refused to ‘discriminate’ against homosexual donors – I understand they all went bankrupt after being sued into oblivion, but the damage was already done. Political correctness is triple-distilled foolishness. There oughta be a law.
The Duesberg story was a semi-interesting example of people being confused by credentials – mostly people that already wanted to be confused. I remember a friend asking why he should believe me, rather than a a tenured expert that was member of the National Academy of Sciences: answer, because of those transfusion cases, cases in hemophiliacs, contact tracing, etc. Simple, clear evidence. As I recall, my arguments didn’t have much effect. Now when the triple therapies showed up and worked, that had an effect. It almost cured the disease, and that did change people’s minds.
Were there ‘conspiracy theories’? Sure: but comical ones, that involved the CIA having vast malice (probably not) and superhuman competence ( it is to laugh !) used to invent a new supervirus aimed at killing off various undesirables. I say comical, but not sure they can compete with Bill Gates’ chunky-style COVID-19 vaccine, now with microchips !