AIDS at the University
HIV/AIDS ravaged gay communities nationally and locally during the 1980s. Drew Feraios (AB 1981) remembers that the threat of AIDS and the climate of homophobia it fostered politicized gay men on campus and "contributed to the coming out process of my more closeted friends." The objects in this case point to some of the different strategies community members used to respond to AIDS.
David Ostrow (SB 1969, MD 1974, PhD 1975) co-founded the Gay Medical Students Organization for medical students across Chicago which began confidential STD testing for gay and bisexual men in the 1970s. This early experience in community-based medicine put Ostrow in place to become a lead researcher on the Multisite AIDS Cohort Study beginning in 1984. Still running today, the MACS is the first and largest study on the natural history of AIDS. Ostrow was invited back to campus to speak to medical students in 1985.
Direct-action organizing also provided an outlet for anger at a society that did not care about those who were dying. Debbie Gould (AM 1990, PhD 2000) began working with ACT UP/Chicago (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) while still a student, left the University after earning her AM in order to spend more time on activism, and returned years later to write her dissertation on the movement. This case displays archived photos that Scott Mendel (AM 1995) took at ACT UP demonstrations in Chicago.