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May 16, 1990

AIDS Activities: From Day 1 to 'Something Big'

JAMA. 1990;263(19):2584-2587. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440190040018

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WHEN AIDS began, it was the CDC's disease.

Looking back, it's clear that the pandemic of what is now called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was well under way throughout the world by the summer of 1981, when two issues of the MMWR reported unusual disorders in clusters of male homosexuals in Los Angeles and New York City. But the Atlanta agency took the lead, as it had countless times before, in investigating the epidemiology of this new outbreak.

Reminiscing recently about the organizational evolution of AIDS at the CDC, Gary R. Noble, MD, PhD, who holds the position of deputy director (HIV), recounted a virtual history of "what we knew and when we knew it" about the human immunodeficiency virus. After the initial MMWR reports, James W. Curran, MD, for example, was drawn at once from the Sexually Transmitted Diseases program to conduct surveillance and work with a small group that