About The Countdown

This site hosts a poem-a-day countdown to 35 years of AIDS on June 5, 2016.

Why June 5?

On June 5, 1981, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ran a story about five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) among previously healthy young gay men in Los Angeles. This was the first media report of any kind on what would come to be known as AIDS.

A month later, on July 3, 1981, The New York Times published an article by Lawrence K. Altman entitled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” Doctors in New York and California had diagnosed Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), a rare and fatal form of cancer.

This mysterious condition was soon given the name GRID, for Gay Related Immune Disorder. Once the condition was observed in other groups besides gay men, the name was changed to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS.

Large Blog ImageOn June 5, 2015, The HIV Here & Now Project began an online poem-a-day countdown leading up to 35 years of AIDS (inspired by Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker’s poetry project during the first 100 days of the Obama administration in 2009). The poems in the countdown address 35 years of AIDS directly or indirectly, literally or metaphorically. Poems deal with long-term survival, recent infection, racialization of HIV, criminalization of HIV, globalization of HIV, and living with HIV risk, among other topics. Many of the poems are not apparently related to HIV or AIDS at all, but are simply beautiful poems honoring a day in the countdown.