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From AIDS to COVID-19, Gay Activists in San Francisco Have Been Organizing in Public Health for Decades

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Sex education and risk-reduction pamphlets from the 1980s, many produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. (Material from the Gay and Lesbian Center ephemera collection and the San Francisco Ephemera Collection, San Francisco Public Library) (Collage by Sarah Hotchkiss/KQED)

Forty years after the AIDS epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens those most at risk in the LGBTQ community across the world. Community organizers in the Bay Area have been building on the work of people like Bobbi Campbell, a San Francisco nurse who became the first person to go public with a cancer associated with AIDS. His work to educate the other gay men in the city was the beginning of an activist-led campaign that helped protect the queer community from AIDS even before the federal government acknowledged the disease.

Guest: Sarah Hotchkiss, KQED Arts’ Senior associate editor

Read more of KQED Arts’ series Pride as Protest.

Episode transcript here.


This episode originally aired on June 26, 2019. Subscribe to The Bay to hear more local Bay Area stories like this one. New episodes are released Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 a.m. Find The Bay on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, NPR One or via Alexa.

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