by Rachel Blume
The following post is part two of a two-part series inspired by our oral history interview with David Rosenstein, DMD, MPH. The interview transcript is available here. (Part one of this blog post is available here.)
In 1982, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute announced that what was then known as Gay-related Immune Deficiency (GRID) had "reached epidemic proportions and the totals probably represented just the tip of the iceberg."(1) To make matters worse, despite the reassurance of epidemiologists that no evidence had been found that the condition spread from person to person like influenza or measles, healthcare professionals were often terrified to treat HIV-positive patients.
Throughout his oral history, Rosenstein expresses his wish that the OHSU School of Dentistry would have given a chance to more students of diverse and under-represented groups, including the poor, saying "give them an education. Let them go out and help people." That simply wasn't a priority to the School at the time. Rosenstein predicts in his closing remarks that there will always be people who get left out in the cold in the private healthcare sector and, for that reason, public health dentistry will always be there as a place to care for those patients.
If you have any records relating to the Russell Street Clinic or its predecessor, the Fred Hampton People's Free Health Clinic, and would like to donate them to our archives, please contact Steve Duckworth, University Archivist, at 503-494-0186.
1. Altman, Lawrence K. (1982 May 11). "New Homosexual Disorder Worries Health Officials," New York Times, https://web.archive.org/web/20160306162552/http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/11/science/new-homosexual-disorder-worries-health-officials.html?pagewanted=all
2. Gay and Lesbian history collection, Mss 2988-1, Oregon Historical Society Davies Family Research Library, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv10913