The Wages of Sin is Death: HIV/AIDS in Utah

The Utah Department of Health confirmed the first cases of AIDS in 1983 and began compiling statistics on the disease that year. How did gay and lesbian activists in Utah respond to the new and deadly disease? What did religious communities in Utah think about the disease and what, if any, support did they offer? How did the state health department respond to its responsibility to treat those who had become infected and what did it do to prevent the spread of the disease? This presentation describes where people with AIDS in Utah sought care, and examines the “Common Law Marriage Act” passed by the Utah legislature in 1987, the first piece of legislation to address the AIDS epidemic. How does the presupposition that moral unworthiness warrants death continue to permeate contemporary political and religious cultures?

J. Seth Anderson