Keith Haring created this mural at Woodhull Medical Center, a personal gift to the hospital which Haring admired for its dedication to pediatric AIDS research and treatment.
HIV/AIDS, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States among adults aged 25 to 44, has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 New Yorkers. First documented in 1981, the HIV/AIDS outbreak was first identified as a “gay-related immunodeficiency disease,” but soon after it was discovered that intravenous drug abusers also were infected. As more and more people were diagnosed with the disease, New York started taking drastic measures to try to find a cure and to encourage safety during drug use and sex.
Community advocacy organizations like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) helped many HIV/AIDS patients become adjusted to life with the disease. New York City records note that by 1987, $400 million had been spent on AIDS services. Hotlines were created to provide counseling for those affected, and new needle exchange programs were established in New York to prevent the spread of the disease. Despite these efforts, AIDS became the leading cause of death for men between 25 and 44 and for black women between 15 to 44 in the 1980s.