Many of us grew up amid the AIDS crisis. We remember Ryan White, the Magic Johnson bombshell, and that TV movie starring Molly Ringwald. We watched videos in health class and were lectured on abstinence. Later, we were given condoms and reminded that "everyone's got a random." We know people who have the disease and, tragically, people who have died. But, we don't really remember the early days of AIDS when panic and hysteria reigned — and even Hollywood was scared.
In honor of World AIDS Day, we dug up this vintage People article from 1985, which paints a startling picture of how people first reacted to crisis. At a time when little was known about the disease, and Hollywood was still reeling from actor Rock Hudson's admission that he had AIDS, paranoia and accusations ruled. Finger foods were verboten at parties for fear that you might catch it from a canapé touched by another guest. Joan Rivers stopped drinking her Perrier out of a glass. George Hamilton stored his blood in a private blood bank to keep it uncontaminated. Actors and actresses refused to kiss newcomers on the set, lest they get sick.
"AIDS has spread so much that I don't want to kiss anyone new on the show," Knots Landing star Donna Mills said at the time. "Straight. Gay. Anybody. Let's face it. I don't know who he's been with or who his girl or boyfriend has been with."
While hindsight is always 20/20 and it's unfair to be judgmental about a time when so little was known about the devastating disease, it's both shocking and sobering to read about the hysteria of the time. This World AIDS day, we're feeling grateful to live in an age of hope, not fear. Read this article and you'll realize that's not something to take for granted. (People)