Gail Barouh PhD was the CEO of LIAAC for 31 years. LIAAC stands for Long Island Association for Aids Care. Since its founding in 1986 and until her retirement, she was the first person and the face of the organization that helped thousands.
AIDS was officially discovered in 1981, but cases of humans suffering from the virus date as late as 1959. This is the year with the first recorded document of symptoms the same as the AIDS. the record was made in Congo, Africa. Then, in 1966, a case appeared in Norway, but this was all on a low scale or the officials still didn’t realize that there’s a threat of escalation.
In 1981, the American healthcare officials declared 5 cases in the USA and this is the beginning of the fight against AIDS. Just 5 years later, LIAAC was founded and the official work of Dr. Barouh begins.
She had the chance to embrace and help tens of thousands of people over the years that had problems with not just the disease itself, but with the ability to reconnect with the society. We all know how these people used to feel when it was found out they have HIV. Marginalized, avoided, and insulted.
A large portion of the battle for overcoming this stigma lies within Dr Barouh. Her publications and media appearances made a huge difference. People suddenly started to realize that a person infected with HIV is not someone who can spread its disease but just being near. The virus needs special environment to get transferred from one person to another. Learn more about the virus here.
Miss Gail published three books on the subject among which is “Support Groups: The Human Face of the HIV/AIDS Bereavement.” This is a book where she explained her experience in doing interviews with not just the patients, but the people around them too. Friends, family, etc. It helps in understanding what HIV infected people go through. How they feel, what they have to do in order to survive in the harsh reality knowing that they carry the virus with them.
Contrary to popular beliefs, especially in the 80s and the 90s of the previous century, HIV can’t be transferred to another person on any other way but sexually. This means AIDS carriers were, in fact, harmless to other people and if the officials managed to explain this to the wide masses, there wouldn’t be such a problem. A lot of infected people were not just been avoided by the crowd but often humiliated, and even attacked physically.
If more people dedicated their life and work to this subject, as Gail Barouh did, this problem would’ve been overcome much quicker than it was. In fact, the problem still stands, a lot of the population is still uneducated and think that HIV is so dangerous that these patients should stay away from them like they’d get infected just by looking in their eyes.
The truth is, it’s an issue that must’ve got more attention and a lot more organizations like the Long Island one must’ve appeared to fight for the rights of this group.
Gail Barouh got retired in 2017. With it, she stepped down from the CEO position and continued another journey. She’s now an attorney for the LGBTQ community and she’s fighting for their rights. We all know that this group was the one most affected in the early years of discovery of HIV. Today, there’s no rule about who owns the virus and what kind of sexual orientation has. However, the common perception that this is a condition of the homosexuals still exists in many parts of the world. See this link for more on the LGBTQ community: https://gaycenter.org/about/lgbtq/.
That’s exactly what the LIAAC is fighting against. Over 1000 people are treated at the moment by them. Some of them are Barouh’s clients too. We all must contribute more to the well being of this marginalized group and make them feel like they’re supposed to.
Everyone can give as much as they can. Through work, spreading the word, financial help, everything’s good. Until the scientists find a cure for it, we must fight for our place under the sun.