NIH launches online AIDS oral history project

June 03, 2001

"We received a referral to the NIH, in June of 1981, of a patient D who, as we shall discuss, turned out to be the first patient seen at NIH with AIDS." Dr. Thomas Waldmann

"I made the decision that we would have to switch over to research on this disease [AIDS] because, as every month went by, I became more convinced that we were dealing with something that was going to be a disaster for society." Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

What did researchers think, feel, and do when AIDS--eventually traced to a smoldering new virus that would wreak havoc worldwide--first emerged? To commemorate the twentieth anniversary on June 5th of the first publication about AIDS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces the launch of a new Web site titled "In Their Own Words: NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS" ( The site features compelling stories told in the transcripts of interviews NIH Historian Victoria A. Harden, Ph.D., conducted with physicians, scientists, nurses, and administrators involved in AIDS research at NIH. The voices of some of them can be heard in audio clips featured in brief chapters highlighting their first encounters with AIDS patients, the discovery of HIV, the search for treatments, and other aspects of AIDS research at NIH in the 1980s.

An ongoing project, the site will be updated over time with more oral histories and other archival material. It is a window into the world of biomedical science for the public, and it is expected to be a valuable resource for scholars, students, the media, and policy makers interested in the history of AIDS research.

"As a historian of science and medicine working in an institution leading the world in formulating a response to a new infectious disease," comments Dr. Harden, "I thought it was imperative to document and preserve what was happening here." She began the AIDS history project in 1988, shortly after the NIH established a history office and hired her as its director. "The people who have suffered with or died from AIDS and those who have cared for people with AIDS need to know that from the beginning, a group of highly skilled and caring people at NIH worked as hard as people could to address the problem."

In addition to the oral history transcripts and brief biographies, the site features a 1981-1988 timeline of key events in AIDS history, focused mainly on NIH and other federal agencies, as well as document and image archives. The document archive includes selected press releases, articles authored by Dr. Harden, as well as copies of the AIDS Memorandum, a fast-track way to circulate unpublished observations and data among NIH AIDS researchers in the early 1980s.

"In the past 20 years, advances in HIV/AIDS research have been extraordinary, but much remains to be accomplished, especially in terms of remaining vigilant in our fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States and in bringing the benefits of AIDS research to poorer countries around the world," comments Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Dr. Harden's office has done a great service to the public and to medical historians in documenting how NIH responded during the early years of AIDS."

Dr. Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the NIH institute that funds most HIV/AIDS research, since 1984. He was among the first researchers at NIH to focus on AIDS research, and in early 1982, he took care of one of the first AIDS patients admitted to the NIH. His is among the transcripts that can be accessed via the Web site. Among the other approximately 20 transcripts currently online are those of Drs. Robert Gallo, H. Clifford Lane, Samuel Broder, Christine Grady, Thomas C. Quinn, Harvey Klein and Robert Yarchoan.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated illnesses, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Aids Articles from Brightsurf:

Developing a new vaccination strategy against AIDS
Infection researchers from the German Primate Center (DPZ) -- Leibniz Institute for Primate Research have in cooperation with international colleagues tested a new vaccination strategy against the HIV-related simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in rhesus monkeys.

HIV-AIDS: Following your gut
Researchers find a way to reduce replication of the AIDS virus in the gastrointestinal tract.

A path toward ending AIDS in the US by 2025
Using prevention surveillance data to model rates of HIV incidence, prevalence and mortality, investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health set targets, specifically a decrease in new infections to 21,000 by 2020 and to 12,000 by 2025, that would mark a transition toward ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

What does it take for an AIDS virus to infect a person?
Researchers examined the characteristics of HIV-1 strains that were successful in traversing the genital mucosa that forms a boundary to entry by viruses and bacteria.

How AIDS conquered North America
A new technique that allowed researchers to analyze genetic material from serum samples of HIV patients taken before AIDS was known provides a glimpse of unprecedented detail into the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in North America.

New research could help build better hearing aids
Scientists at Binghamton University, State University of New York want to improve sensor technology critical to billions of devices made every year.

NY State Department of Health AIDS Institute funds HIV/AIDS prevention in high-risk youth
NewYork-Presbyterian's Comprehensive Health Program and Project STAY, an initiative of the Harlem Heath Promotion Center (HHPC) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has received two grants totaling more than $3.75 million from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute for their continued efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS in at-risk youth.

A new way to nip AIDS in the bud
When new HIV particles bud from an infected cell, the enzyme protease activates to help the viruses infect more cells.

AIDS research prize for Warwick academic
A researcher at the University of Warwick has received international recognition for his contribution to AIDS research.

Insects inspire next generation of hearing aids
An insect-inspired microphone that can tackle the problem of locating sounds and eliminate background noise is set to revolutionize modern-day hearing aid systems.

Read More: Aids News and Aids Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to