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Thomas C. Quinn M.D.

Thomas Quinn PipettingThat is when I got into my problems with the press, because it was in 1986 that I started talking about this actively, saying, “What is happening in Africa is going to happen here in the United States.” People said, “You do not have any proof, any evidence.” By 1988, I had all the evidence I wanted. I published it the information in the New England Journal of Medicine and then I got attacked left and right. Critics said that these people were lying, they were really having sex with gay men, and they were shooting up and just denying they were shooting up. So my paper about heterosexual spread in STD clinics in the United States–it was in Baltimore, but it is U.S.-based study–came out about the same time that Cosmopolitancame out with their front cover saying, “Women, you do not need to worry. You can’t get AIDS.” I started going on these talk shows and television interviews and the interviewers said, “You are just an AIDS investigator who is trying to get money to do your research, and so you are saying it is heterosexually spread.” I was replying, “No, I am not saying this for funding purposes. That would be insane. I do not need to because my funding is for work in Africa anyway.” It was not until a couple of years later that other papers and reports, other scientists, were starting to support the idea that heterosexual transmission might really be happening here in this country. But it took a long time, I think, for us to come to that realization.

For the complete transcript of this interview, go to the Transcripts page.