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Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) was the original name for a disease currently known as AIDS. GRID was first mentioned in a May 11, 1982 article in the New York Times.[1] In this article, the term "A.I.D." (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease) is also mentioned. In the early days of AIDS (i.e., 1982–1985), the terms "gay cancer" and "gay plague" were also used.[2][3][4]

The term GRID was never used in the scientific biomedical literature. In the popular press, it was only used for a very short period of time.[5] On August 8, 1982, the term AIDS (for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) first appeared in New York Times. It was initially spelled A.I.D.S.[6] The reason for the GRID-to-AIDS change in nomenclature was the realization that the "gay" attribution did not fully encompass the demographics of the disease. The use of GRID and gay-related immune deficiency in the popular literature reached a peak in 1995 [source needed]; the terms have rapidly sunk into obsolescence subsequently.

One reason for the use of "gay" in the disease name was that the first recognized cases of AIDS were restricted to gay men, who represented a marginalized group that could be easily further stigmatized.[7] Another reason may have to do with the tendency of people in Western societies to seek meaning in diseased states.[8] This phenomenon was recognized by Susan Sontag as a form of punishment, and in her book Illness as Metaphor, she wrote: "Nothing is more punitive than to give a disease a meaning".[9] The third reason for the emphasis on sexual orientation may be due to the belief in the Just World Hypothesis, i.e., the claim that we live in a world where people generally get what they deserve. According to this world view, the roots of an affliction must be sought in the victim; as with women who have been raped who must be guilty of seductive behavior, so the reason for AIDS must that those afflicted are guilty of immoral acts.[10]


  1. Altman, Lawrence K (May 11, 1982). "New Homosexual Disorder Worries Health Officials". New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  2. Template:Cite news
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. VerMeulen, Michael (May 31, 1982) "The Gay Plague". New York Magazine, pp. 52-78.
  5. Altman, Lawrence K. (June 18, 1982) "Clue Found in Homosexuals' Precancer Syndrome". New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  6. Herman, Robin (August 8, 1982) "A Disease's Spread Provokes Anxiety". New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  7. Goldin, Carol S. (1994) "Stigmatization and AIDS: Critical Issues in Public Health. Social Science & Medicine 39(9):1359-1366.
  8. Hart, John (1985) "Social Aspects of AIDS". The Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 18:33-43.
  9. Sontag, Susan (1983) Illness as Metaphor. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, England.
  10. Anderson, Veanne N. (1992) "For Whom Is This World Just? Sexual Orientation and AIDS." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 22(3)248-259.