November 1996
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There are 418 AIDS cases in Massachusetts. Seventy-four percent are gay.

In February, President Reagan makes his first prepared remarks on AIDS -- three sentences in an address to employees at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In April, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Arnold Relman, tells an audience that everyone at risk for AIDS should be forced to undergo an antibody test "to find out who is infected and who is not."

In July, five Harvard-affiliated hospitals in Boston receive $9 million in federal funding to start testing several drugs considered promising in the treatment of AIDS.

Twenty-nine workers at New England Telephone (now NYNEX) walk off the job in October because they are afraid of being exposed to the HIV antibodies carried by coworker Paul Cronan.

It is discovered in November that thousands of state residents are being screened for HIV antibodies by their insurance companies, and that some of those testing positive are being denied coverage. The state insurance commissioner promises to act swiftly -- and strictly -- against the companies doing the testing.


There are 729 AIDS cases in Massachusetts. Sixty-nine percent are gay.

Dukakis approves a policy in July allowing insurance companies to test for the AIDS virus, reversing an earlier ban imposed by Insurance Commissioner Peter Hiam. Hiam resigns.

Sergeant Joseph Dean, a prison guard at the Deer Island House of Correction, sues an inmate in August in Suffolk Superior Court to compel the inmate to take an HIV test after inmate Timothy Bowie -- openly gay and imprisoned for prostitution -- allegedly scratched his face and spit on his open facial wounds.

The Life Insurance Association of Massachusetts sues the state over its regulations that limit testing for AIDS for individual life insurance policies.

The state mails a 100-page AIDS-education package containing lesson plans for teachers, to schools across Massachusetts. The curriculum discusses homosexuality, safer sex practices, and communicable diseases.

AIDS Action Committee's state funding comes under fire in November after the legislature examines copies of an explicit brochure on safer sex the agency produced.


The AIDS caseload has grown to 1235. Sixty-six percent of all cases are gay.

A local jury awards Elizabeth Ramos $750,000 in her malpractice suit against Dr. Kenneth Bernstein, who had refused to treat her for AIDS -- instead diagnosing Ramos with bronchitis, asthma, pleurisy, and anxiety.

The Fenway launches a "breakthrough" treatment for PCP -- aerosolized pentamidine (AP).

ACT UP/Boston forms. Thirty people demonstrate outside the JFK Federal Building at City Hall Plaza, where the federal Department of Health and Human Services has offices, to protest the Federal Drug Administration's slow movement in releasing AIDS drugs.

["Craig Boston University president John Silber nixes student plans for condom dispensers in BU dorms.

Fifty demonstrators from ACT UP/Boston stage a "die in" at Mass General in March to protest the unavailability of AP. Thanks to sophisticated PR by ACT UP, the event is a media circus.

Surgeon General C. Everett Koop addresses the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, and says that if needle exchange is proved useful no one should object.

The Boston AIDS Brigade, organized by Jon Parker as part of his master's thesis at the Yale School of Public Health, begins an illegal needle exchange program.

In April, ACT UP stages a sleep-in outside Dukakis's Brookline home to protest the shortage of hospital beds for AIDS patients.

The NAMES Project stops in Boston, adding new panels made by quilters meeting at the Arlington Street Church.

As Cardinal Law conducts services, 40 ACT UP demonstrators gather outside the South End's Cathedral of the Holy Cross to protest Law's opposition to Mayor Flynn's proposed needle-exchange program and condom education.

In June, AIDS Action's Pledge Walk, "From All Walks of Life," draws more than 12,000 people to gross more than $1.3 million -- nearly double the 1987 total.

In the wake of the state legislature's rejection of Mayor Ray Flynn's plans for a needle-exchange program, Larry Kessler calls for illegal needle exchange.

The Supreme Judicial Court rules that the state insurance commission can dictate when, where, and how the insurance industry can conduct HIV testing.

The first Provincetown "Swim for Life" AIDS benefit is held in August.

After a series of ACT UP protests, Fisions Pharmaceuticals of Bedford agrees to publicize information on its clinical trials of AP.

ACT UP stages a "zap" on the steps of the Harvard Medical School in September, spilling blood to protest the way Harvard is conducting its medical research.

Fenway opens an HIV Outpatient Treatment Center, New England's first.

Seven protesters are arrested during an ACT UP demonstration in November at the John Hancock Tower aimed at highlighting the insurance company's refusal to reimburse people for aerosolized pentamidine.

The Dukakis Administration honors Dale Orlando and Larry Kessler for their AIDS work during a State House reception.

The Boston AIDS Consortium releases a report that warns that the state is not prepared for future cases of AIDS.


There are 2003 AIDS cases in the state. Sixty-three percent are gay.

In January, the nation's first AIDS hospice opens in Mission Hill; it can house 20 people with AIDS.

The Hot Delivered Meals Coalition forms. It later becomes Community Servings; by 1996 the agency delivers 300 meals a day to people with AIDS.

ACT UP protests John Hancock for not covering the costs of aerosolized pentamidine and zaps the premiere of the film Mother, Mother, a benefit for the AAC, because John Hancock funded creation of the movie. John Hancock later gives in and offers coverage for the drug.

The Fenway's Dale Orlando heads up the New England Initiative for Community Research, in response to a need for access to experimental treatments and clinical trials for people with HIV and AIDS.

Boston's sole bathhouse, Club 297 on Franklin Street downtown, is closed by city officials who say the facility violates many health and safety codes. ACT UP's Steven Busby calls the move "pure homophobia," noting that nobody has tried to close the Naked i Cabaret in the Combat Zone. The next month, the club is destroyed by arson.

["Silence=Death"] In February, Larry Kessler is named to the 15-member National Commission on AIDS. The nomination came from US Senator Edward Kennedy. He is the commission's only openly gay member.

The Multicultural AIDS Coalition begins operations in the Harriet Tubman House on Columbus Avenue in the South End.

The Boston Living Center is created in March as a nonprofit drop-in center for people with AIDS.

The state Department of Public Health announces in May that it will start publishing a listing of clinical trials for AIDS-treatment drugs.

More than 500 people attend a June ACT UP demonstration at Astra Pharmaceutical Products in Westborough, to protest the company's refusal to release the experimental antiviral drug Foscarnet. Fifteen people are arrested.

The state issues new HIV testing regulations in August for insurance companies. Companies may now test applicants for HIV when they want individual health, life, and disability policies.

In September, ACT UP protests the level-funding of AIDS services in the state budget by blocking traffic on the Mass Ave bridge. Protesters say they want to give commuters a taste of what it's like to have their lives interrupted by AIDS. Eleven people are arrested.

ACT UP zaps the AIDS Action Committee in December, protesting against the agency's refusal to urge all at-risk people to be tested for HIV. The next month, AAC releases a statement recognizing the "increased value" of testing.

Click for 1990 - 1996

P R O F I L E S, Boston-area AIDS activists: Larry Kessler | Max Essex | Denise McWilliams |
Matt Florence | Ray Schmidt | Ken Mayer | Barbara Gomes-Beach | Brian Rosenberg

T I M E L I N E, 1981 - 1985 | 1986 - 1989 | 1990 - 1996 | The N A M E S | AIDS L I N K S

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