Office of NIH History  
In Their Own Words: NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS
 
Audio Transcript
Dr. Kenneth Sell
 
   
 
Interviewer: I've heard AIDS called an epidemic. About how many cases of AIDS have been reported?

Sell: Over 600 patients have now been reported as having this disease, and the disease is called an epidemic because it's occurring at a slightly increased frequency in recent weeks.

Interviewer: And is there a specific geographical pattern to the occurrences?

Sell: Initially most of the cases were located in three major cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, with New York providing more than half of all the cases. New York is still the center of this disease, but now it's been seen in many of our major cities throughout the country, and the geographic pattern is quickly spreading.

Interviewer: I've read reports that 75 percent of AIDS patients are homosexual or bisexual males. Can you determine why they seem to be so susceptible?

Sell: No we can't. It is interesting, however, that initially all of the patients that were identified were homosexual. And as we follow the occurrence of the disease throughout the country, an increasing percentage of the patients are nonhomosexuals. Groups other than homosexuals have now been identified. Those who use drugs by the intravenous route have been shown to have an increased incidence of this disease, even though it's known that they're not homosexual. And two other groups have been identified: one, a group of Haitian refugees–not recent refugees, but refugees that have been in this country for some period of years; and there is also a small number of hemophiliac patients. I believe there are four that have been identified.

Interviewer: Do you ever see any women patients?

Sell: Yes. There are a small number of women who apparently have this same syndrome, and that number seems to be increasing slowly with passage of time as well.

 
     
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