Archive ID: 1998_32_02

Dr Selma Dritz was an American doctor and epidemiologist. In this interview she tells the story of how the AIDS epidemic started in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early 80's and how AIDS was connected to the gay liberation movement. She also talks about the government and community responses at that time.

Background material

"Dr. Selma Kaderman Dritz was an American physician and former chief epidemiologist in San Francisco where she began tracking the first known cases of AIDS in the early 1980s.She played a crucial role both as a public health decisionmaker and as an early AIDS activist. She was also active in the Democratic Party. She was portrayed by an actress in the famous HBO movie "And the Band Played On" from 1990, which was based on a documentary book with the same name written by Randy Shilts from the San Francisco Chronicle. This interview with Selma Dritz in her home is a strong memory. She told us the entire start of the epidemic in San Fransisco including the dramatic story of the so called Patient Zero, the French Canadian chief steward who was involved in spreading HIV in the early years. The entire background story is included in my interview. She was married to an admiral in the Seventh Fleet during the Second World War." - Staffan Hildebrand