Prior to it being a "gay disease", it was a disease of colonies in African nations. Scientists have found evidence that HIV/AIDS might have been running rampant as far back as the 1930s. Since so many people were butchering meat from apes, it is believed to have leapt from them to man. And since so many people died in those remote areas of "unknown origin", nobody really took notice. However, a blood sample was preserved from 1939. HIV was found in it. The disease then likely went to Haiti (HIV was found in blood samples collected in 1966) before it first arrived in 1968 in America. It wasn't until 12 years later that "patient zero" was identified in the U.S.<quoted text>
Not back then, it was the gay disease.
It cannot be known how many people actually died of the disease prior to it being fully studied in the U.S. in the 1980s. But I'm guessing that from 1939 to 1980 there were many.
Sometimes it helps to do a little research before making erroneous and misleading comments.