The first cases were officially reported in the summer of 1981. By early 1983, the media was starting to cover it heavily. In April, Time called it the "public health threat of the century." Geraldo Rivera did a sensational report in May 1983 where he showed a particularly graphic case of Kaposi's Sarcoma. In late 1982, I actually met James Curran of CDC at a conference in Dallas. Rivera claimed that AIDS had come to the US through Haiti, but it is probable that it came to the US directly from Africa and then went to Haiti.
The episode touched on the controversy over testing for HTLV-III/HIV. Gay activists often screamed "don't take the test".