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Curated & Moderated by:
Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou

AIDS in 1980s Greece: An audio documentary

Three Greek long-term survivors of HIV and one doctor share their stories about living through the dark days of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic before anti-retroviral medication became available.

1983 marks both the establishment of the first public health system as well as the death of the first patient of AIDS in Greece. It was the starting point of a dark period for those with HIV, that lasted more than ten years. As the epidemic grew, homophobia rose, stigmatizing the LGBTQ+ community at the time even more. Additionally, the unpreparedness or even ignorance of the experts and authorities in facing the virus added to the ordeal of all patients with AIDS. Despite its harshness, the history of HIV/ AIDS in Greece is not as documented or well-known as in other countries. The many hundreds that died in those first years mostly remain anonymous. It took years of hard work of activists and doctors for things to change for the better. With the help of Positive Voice, Greece’s association of people living with HIV/AIDS, SNF Dialogues spoke with HIV long-term survivors who shared their memories of what it was like to live through those years, the people they lost and the indignities they endured.  

Between 1983 and 1996, we had a daily contract with death. The people that contracted AIDS melted away in pain and misery, weighing 25 kilos at death.

Gregory Vallianatos SNF Dialoguer Profile

Gregory Vallianatos, Retired, Activist

The hallmark of this epidemic was silence, contempt and indifference.

Andreas Mazarakis SNF Dialoguer Profile

Andreas Mazarakis, Retired, Activist

It was a life of punishment, struggle, and loneliness, interminable loneliness. I hadn’t even told my mother I had tested HIV positive.

Katerina Tarli SNF Dialoguer Profile

Katerina Tarli, Retired, Author

In those days, we couldn’t even write medical certificates for patients to visit a doctor or a public health committee. They were all stigmatized in society. 

Marios Konstantinos Lazanas SNF Dialoguer Profile

Marios Konstantinos Lazanas, Director of the Internal Medicine-Infectious Diseases of IASO General Clinic, President of the Hellenic Society for the Study and Control of AIDS

Produced by Phoebe Fronista
Sound recording and design: Aris Athanasopoulos 

This podcast is only available in Greek. 

*The opinions expressed by Dialogues participants, whether representing officially institutions and organizations or themselves, on events, articles, or other audiovisual media are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or iMEdD. Opinions are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.