AIDS was first reported as an outbreak of a rare type of cancer in homosexual men in New York and California in 1981.
In that first year 159 cases of the new disease were recorded in the United States.
Today, the estimated number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country is 1.05 million people. Public Health -Seattle and King County estimates 8,400 people are living with HIV/AIDS in King County. Nationally, 22% of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. are women; in King County, 10 percent, or 539, of recorded cases are women.
To date, 3,956 people have died of complications from AIDS in King County.
Thousands of people will walk this Saturday Sept. 10 to help raise money for services provided by the Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle. For more information www.aidswalk2005.org
Eric Rocker, age 48, taking a peat bath at Bastyr University has been HIV positive for 22 years and has lived with AIDS for 10 of those years:
Mind, body and soul. It really does take all there is to survive this. I’ve been (HIV/AIDS) positive for 22 years. (At Bastyr University) they put you in a really hot bath. We’re in there from 15 to 20 minutes. I’m at 108 or 110 (degrees).
We’re very lucky here in Seattle. The western medicine people respect the eastern medicine folks. The eastern medicine folks respect what you need from your western medicine. So they really work as complimentary care.. A lot of western meds are very toxic to your system. For us, the hot (peat) baths really clear that out. As well as the herbs and vitamins that they give us.
I am a salvage patient. I am in the last ditch efforts as far as western medications are concerned. I’m on some new amazing meds which is amazing but then they’re difficult too because its an injectable so I’ve to give myself shots twice a day. And because they bruise, my body image is not as good as it used to be. But its OK because its saving my life.
When I first became positive in the early days, there were no women. I had two young baby nieces. And I decided that for the time I had left I would help in the research department. That’s what I could give to the world. And so every research project that they were doing I tried to get into.
So they figured I had become exposed from him (my husband) at some time. But because he was already so low to them it was obvious that he had brought it to our relationship. But he didn’t know. He didn’t know that he was positive. But it really isn’t a blame thing anyway. It doesn’t matter. Unless someone is going out purposely infecting other people, people have to be careful because less than a third of the people who are positive know that
(The)…research has to continue. Continue, continue, because the virus is out smarting it. Actually its mutating out from under those drugs so the newly diagnosed person is often resistant to drugs in much the same way as I am because they got a virus from someone who has been on medications.
We’re lucky in Seattle because the stigma has changed some. The community in Seattle is more open to people of all kinds. And they’re very aware in this city. But in the rural areas, and I mean just a little bit away, you end up in the same thing as in the old days. We still have to be careful.
You’re in such a low, low place. Your identity, your job, your everything is gone all at the same time. And then you have to fight your way back.
People who aren’t positive can help and they can try and understand but until you really face you’re immortality, you can’t really understand it. You can understand it on an intellectual level. But you can’t understand it on a soul level until you’ve been there.