San Francisco, United States

They Were Really Us (AIDS History Exhibit at UCSF)

They Were Really Us (AIDS History Exhibit at UCSF)

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7 tour stops


A Mysterious Outbreak

In 1981, a rare cancer began afflicting young, otherwise healthy, and mostly gay men.

4 min

A Disease Defined

How did the mysterious disease come to be known as HIV/AIDS?

3 min

SFGH Wards 86 & 5B

The country's first dedicated AIDS unit opened doors to patients with nowhere to go.

2 min

A Model of Care

At Wards 86 and 5B, the sick were seen not only as patients, but as people.

2 min

Women and HIV/AIDS

The impact of HIV/AIDS on women was not widely understood early in the epidemic.

2 min

Working with Community Groups

Political, educational, and outreach campaigns were also instrumental against AIDS.

2 min

The 6th International Conference on AIDS

Science, politics, the local, and the global met at this conference hosted by UCSF.

3 min


When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century.

The exhibit "They Were Really Us: The UCSF Community's Early Response to AIDS" highlights ways individuals affiliated with UCSF addressed HIV/AIDS following its outbreak. Their responses included working in and with the larger San Francisco community – and continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today.

"They Were Really Us" features materials from UCSF Archives & Special Collection's AIDS History Project. It will be open through August 2020 at the UCSF Library at 530 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA. Displays are on the first, third, and fifth floors. The exhibit is open for free to the public during library hours.

This audio tour features excerpts from UC Berkeley's AIDS Oral History Series.

Offline map included

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