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Special Communication
February 10, 2021

The Role of Dermatologists in the Early HIV/AIDS Epidemic: A Historical Review for the 40th Anniversary of HIV/AIDS

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Dermatol. Published online February 10, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.5545

In 1981, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was first recognized in young gay men presenting with opportunistic infections and Kaposi sarcoma. Over the past 40 years, there has been an unparalleled and hugely successful effort on the part of physicians, scientists, public health experts, community activists, and grassroots organizations to study, treat, and prevent HIV/AIDS. Yet the role of dermatologists in the investigation of HIV/AIDS and in the treatment of infected patients has largely been neglected in the historical literature. It is important to revisit dermatologists’ historic contributions and problematic biases during this epidemic and honor the legacy of the dermatologists who were instrumental in treating and advocating for patients affected by HIV/AIDS.

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