Last Updated on February 6, 2021
On the February 4 episode of National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has led the NIAID since 1984, admitted to frequenting gay bars and bath houses in the 1980s, so he could gain a better scientific understanding of how HIV and AIDS spread among the homosexual population.
In the radio program, Fauci admitted that the federal government did not listen to the concerns of gay activists in the 1980s, who felt the government was not listening to their concerns about a new disease that scientists knew virtually nothing about and spread through the gay community like wildfire.
In response, Fauci said he asked himself, “Let me put myself in their shoes. If I were in their position, what would I be doing?”
To gain a direct and personal understanding of the sexual habits of gay men in the 1980s, Fauci then began visiting gay bars and bath houses in a sort of undercover role.
“We were seeing these large numbers of mostly gay men who were formerly otherwise well who were being devastated by this terrible mysterious disease, and it was so concentrated in the gay community that I really wanted to get a feel for what was going on there that would lead to this explosion of a sexually transmitted disease,” Fauci explained.
Accordingly, Fauci elaborates, “I went into the bathhouses to essentially see what was going on, and the epidemiologist in me went, ‘Oh my goodness, this is a perfect setup for an explosion of a sexually transmitted disease.’”
“And the same thing going to the gay bars and seeing what was going on,” said Fauci. “It gave me a great insight into the explosiveness of the outbreak of the sexually transmitted disease.”
The revelation that gay men were visiting gay bath houses for the purpose of anonymous, often unprotected sex with other men provoked many cities and states to ban gay bath houses. Gay activists, both at the time and still today, considered this a civil rights violation.
In the early days of COVID-19, San Fransisco was openly considering allowing gay bath houses to reopen in the city for the first time since they were shuttered four decades ago.
Fauci was famously lambasted by conservatives in April of last year, when he recommended that sports, schools, businesses, and other necessities of life immediately cease operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also gave his support to individuals using hookup apps like Tinder and its LGBT-exclusive counterpart Grindr to have casual sex.
Fauci said that having casual sex with a relative stranger posed a “relative risk” that individuals would have to determine if they would take.