The Outbreak of AIDS in the United States

Better Essays
The 1980s and early 1990s were a controversial time in U.S. history. The most notable occurrence of dispute comes from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. There were numerous theories regarding how the sickness spread, but a well-known cause of this epidemic was a result of poor medical waste technology. In the 1980s, most medical waste management was regulated by each state. The most common disposal method of medical needles at the time was through the use of red, plastic bags marked ‘Infectious.’ As the epidemic grew, lab technicians treating infected individuals realized these bags were not useful in the prevention of the disease because the needle could break through the plastic causing contamination. During this time period, medical waste was treated as common garbage exposing the everyday worker to the infection. Due to the carelessness of hospital personnel improperly disposing of medical waste in the 1980s, the spread of HIV/AIDS occurred, forcing tighter restrictions on medical waste disposal to be enacted by the federal government.
The AIDS scare began in 1981 when the Centers for Disease Control released a document describing a rare lung infection in a group of men in San Francisco, California. The death toll by the end of the year had increased to 121 men. In 1985, a boy from Indiana contracted HIV through blood treatments used to remedy a condition called hemophilia. Unfortunately, the child died at the age of 18 due to an AIDS related illness. By 1987, the World Health Organization had developed a program that raised awareness, formed different policies, provided support to countries, started research, promoted participation by nongovernmental org...

... middle of paper ...

11, 1991, Academic Search Elite Database, EBSCOhost (3 April 2014).
The New York Times, "Medical Waste Causes Closing Of L.I. Beaches," July 8, 1988 Academic
Search Elite Database, EBSCOhost (3 April 2014).

Centers for Disease Control, “Syringe Disposal”, December 2005,
, Academic Search Elite Database, EBSCOhost (April 9, 2014).
Environmental Protection Agency. "Medical Waste Frequent Questions." EPA. (accessed April 1,
O'Connor, Leo. "Improving medical waste disposal." Mechanical Engineering 116, no. 5 (1994),
Academic Search Elite Database, EBSCOhost (3 April 2014).

"Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency,
n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2014. .
Get Access