PRINT December 1990


This fragment of Group Material's AIDS TIMELINE is presented as a collaborative project for DAY WITHOUT ART 1990 by Visual AIDS and the following publications in their December issues: Afterimage, Art & Auction, Art in America, Art New England, Artforum, Arts, Contemporanea, High Perfomance, October, Parkett, and Shift.


The Great Republic Insurance Company and the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company issue an “AIDS Profile” to their agents, instructing them to earmark applications from “single males without dependents that engage in occupations that do not require physical exertion.” These applicants are usually denied insurance.

Two protesters chain themselves to the Federal Office Building in San Francisco demanding that more money be allocated for AIDS research; and that ARC (AIDS Related Complex) patients be eligible for the same benefits as AIDS patients.

University of California researchers demonstrate that HIV is blocked by a condom during sexual intercourse.

After hosting two successful AIDS benefits in New York and Los Angeles, Elizabeth Taylor is named National Chairperson of the newly formed National AIDS Research Foundation, later to become AmFAR, American Foundation for AIDS Research.

JAMA, (Journal of American Medical Association) publishes an editorial by Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of AIDS research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explaining the results of two studies done on household contact and AIDS. Rather than recognizing perinatal transmission of HIV, Fauci mistakenly warns of the possible risks of casual contact. The Associated Press runs a “household contact” story over their newswire, beginning a national hysteria which extends to the outfitting of many police officers with rubber gloves.

The New York City Department of Substance Services approaches ADPAT (Association of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment,) to urge the to formulate an organized response to the growing number of intravenous drug users at risk for HIV infection. ADAPT proposes a pilot project to distribute free, sterile needles to addicts on the streets.

The Centers for Disease Control's original definition of AIDS is revised to become more specific, outlining particular illnesses called “opportunistic infections” that indicate a suppressed immune system related to AIDS.


President Ronald Reagan gives his first public speech on AIDS. He says that the administration is committed to finding a cure and asks Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to prepare a “major report” on AIDS. Congressman Henry Waxman terms Reagan's pronouncement “outrageous,” noting that Reagan's budget, made public just days before, includes reductions in spending for AIDS research.

Reagan asks for a $10 million cut in the Public Health Service's AIDS budget as well as cuts in Medicaid.

The public Health Service adds AIDS to the list of “dangerous contagious diseases” which prohibit entry into the United States. Subsequently, many visitors are detained by immigration.

A National Academy of Science report charges that government response to AIDS has been “dangerously inadequate” and calls for $2 billion per year for education and research. President Reagan signs legislation that provides only $410 million for this research.

A single B-2 bomber costs over $500 million.

The Supreme Court, in Bowers v. Hardwick, rules 5 to 4 that states can outlaw “sodomy” and other homosexual sex acts, even if conducted by consenting adults in private. Justice Blackmun writes in the dissenting opinion, that he saw “no justification for invading the houses, hearts and minds of citizens who choose to live their lives differently.”