June 11, 1982/MONTROSE VOICE 11
on the rise
Internationa] Gay News Agency
They have already killed more people than
Legionnaires Disease and Toxic Shock
Syndrome combined, but GRID illnesses
(Gay-Related-Immuno-Deficiency illnesses) have not yet received major attention from the nation's health authorities.
Part of the problem is the "gay" cancer
(Kaposi's sarcoma) and Pneumocystis
pneumonia are linked in many minds with
a stigmatized minority.
For some, although the causes are not
yet known, blame ia being placed on sexual activity, drug use or other aspects of a
Author Dan Turner, who has KS, said
that he has been advised by his doctor to
avoid having sexual relations because it is
feared that the cancer may be caused by a
virus that is spread through sexual activity. There seems to be a pattern emerging
that shows a connection between yeast
infections in the body and a later emergence of KS. Possibly a one-celled organism is responsible for the problems,
although no definitive conclusions have
yet been reached.
Scientists fear that GRID problems may
spread into the non-gay population before
they find the solution. New figures show
that a growing number of women and
bisexual or heterosexual men have come
down with one or more of the mysterious
In the 11 months since the first American case of KS was reported to federal
authorities, the new diseases have struck
335 Americans, killing 136.
Only 15 percent of the gay men diagnosed in 1979 for KS are alive today. Two-
thirds of the reported 1980 victims have
The worst killer seems to be the pneumonia, where the death rate is usually 50 percent of those attacked by the disease.
"In San Francisco, it's an epidemic (65
gay men) beyond anything that's acceptable," says Dr. Selma Dritz, assistant director ofthe bureau of communicable disease
control for San Francisco's Department of
Public Health. "It's like nothing we've
It is still unclear whether sexual practices, poppers or other drugs, a history of
diseases, or treatment for diseases—or a
combination of all these fators—are
behind the epidemic.
Several sets of lovers and roommates
have come down with Bame GRID disease,
leading some researchers to suggest that a
virus is involved.
Some researchers are optimistic that if a
virus is the cause, a solution to the GRID
problem could bring a solution to the
causes of all cancers.
The issue promises to become a major
social and political issue, with conservative elements calling for quarantines of
homosexuals, or worse, and others using
the diseases for nonmedical reasons.
Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on
Health and Environment, last month
accused the federal government of being
slow to respond to gay-related diseases.
"There is no doubt in my mind," Waxmen
said, "that if the same disease had
appeared among Americans of Norwegian descent, or among tennis players,
rather than among gay males, the
response of both the government and the
medical community would have been
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