On July 3, 1981, The New York Times published its first account of the yet-unnamed AIDS epidemic.“Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer,” the article began. “Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.”Chris Bartlett was 15 when the article was published.“Between 1981 and 1995, when the first effective treatments came out … there was quite a bit of uncertainty,” Bartlett, now 53, told NBC News. “Would I become HIV-positive? Would I live? Would I survive? And I really didn’t have answers to that.”Today, amid the global coronavirus pandemic, HIV health experts, survivors and longtime activists, like Bartlett are reflecting on the early — and undeniably dark — days of the AIDS crisis. Several of them spoke with NBC News about the parallels between the onset of the two public health outbreaks and what lessons learned four decades ago can help us now.Denial can be deadlyHIV and the coronavirus are very different viruses in terms of contagion and lethality. However, in both cases, early decisions made by government officials and members of the public affected how the outbreaks


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