The syndrome we know today as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is believed to have originated in Kinshasa, in the Congo around 1920 when the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) crossed species from chimpanzees to humans. (Link: http://www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv-aids/origin)
However, the current pandemic started in 1981 when cases of a rare lung infection called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) were found in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles. At the same time, there were reports of a group of men in New York and California with an unusually aggressive cancer named Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Eventually, it became clear that a new disease had appeared and was spreading across America. It was believed to be a disease of homosexuals, and was accordingly called Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). This was later changed to AIDS as it became clear that it could affect heterosexuals, haemophiliacs, and others outside the gay community.
After Dr. Suniti Solomon documented the first cases of HIV infection in India in 1986, it was generally believed that it would spread among the gay population of India because of the prevalent thinking of that time. However, Dr. Solomon believed that the spread would be more through the heterosexual route. After all, the first six cases of HIV infection that she had diagnosed were in female sex workers. Hence at the center of the YRGCARE sunflower logo are the images of a man and a woman – a testimony to Dr. Solomon’s vision and perception.
A man and a woman can also symbolize brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son, or a community. Dr. Solomon also realized it wasn’t just the patient with the infection who was affected, but also the family and the community because of the accompanying stigma. She often said that fighting the stigma was more challenging than fighting the disease. Thus the man and the woman in the logo also symbolize the community and the population at large who are affected by HIV.
The sunflower itself is known to turn itself to always face the sun, the giver of life. This symbolizes all aspects of YRGCARE’s mission: to bring new life and new hope in all ways possible to those infected or affected by HIV.