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Joel Weisman
Born (1943-02-20)February 20, 1943
Died July 18, 2009(2009-07-18) (aged 66)
Occupation Physician

Joel D. Weisman (February 20, 1943 – July 18, 2009) was an American doctor who was one of the first to identify a pattern of illnesses that was ultimately diagnosed as AIDS in the United States. He later became an advocate for the development of treatments and prevention of the disease.

Early life and education

Weisman was born in Newark, New Jersey, on February 20, 1943. He attended the Kansas City College of Osteopathy (later known as the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, graduating in 1970 with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). He practiced medicine in his hometown of Carteret, New Jersey, for several years and ended his brief marriage by disclosing that he was gay.

Discovery and treatment of AIDS

He moved to Los Angeles and was hired by a doctor's office in North Hollywood. There, he started to see a number of patients in 1978 who had a series of unusual conditions, including younger men with shingles, a case of Kaposi's sarcoma, and several patients who had symptoms of what appeared to be, but was not, lymphoma. Weisman referred two of these cases in 1981 to Michael S. Gottlieb, an immunologist at the UCLA Medical Center, who had a patient of his own with a similar pattern of symptoms. A report theyy jointly wrote published by the Centers for Disease Control in the June 5, 1981, issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, describing how their patients, "5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California" of which "[t]wo of the patients died" by the time of the original report. This notice has been recognized as the first published report marking "the official start" of the AIDS pandemic and as "the first report on AIDS in the medical literature".

In Weisman's obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Gottlieb described him as "a very astute physician" who recognized "that something out of the ordinary was happening" by being "alert to unusual symptoms in his patients". Krim described how Weisman immediately knew that "he was observing something that was never seen before."


Weisman died at age 66 due to heart disease on July 18, 2009, at his home in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He was survived by his domestic partner of 17 years, Bill Hutton, as well as by a daughter and granddaughter, a brother and two nieces. Timothy Bogue, his partner for 10 years, died of AIDS in 1991.

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