Icon for HIV / AIDS


The Rise of HIV and Early Treatment

Doctors in Chapel Hill diagnosed the first case of HIV in North Carolina in 1982, and the epidemic spread quickly. By 1996, Durham’s HIV rate was triple the state average.

The Research Triangle was a leader in research and advocacy in the epidemic’s early years. The pharmaceutical corporation Burroughs Wellcome developed the first antiretroviral drug against HIV, AZT.

Duke was one on the first two hospitals to run clinical trials of AZT, the first antiretroviral drug developed to treat HIV.

“There became a lot of distrust. How do you take those fears away from people?”

-Janice Johnson, former director,
AIDS Community Residence Association (ACRA)

The Lesbian and Gay Health Project, founded in Durham, aimed to reduce stigma within the medical community and larger Durham community regarding homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.

The epidemic profoundly affected those living in poverty. The Durham County Health Department opened a new clinic for those of low socioeconomic status. Physicians and other health workers from Lincoln Community Health Center staffed this clinic. But distrust of medical professionals prevented some Black Durhamites from seeking treatment.

“My diagnosis led me to discover that there’s such a thing as acquaintances and there’s such a thing as true friends.”

-Derrick Barnes, Durham resident living with AIDS