A Short History of AIDS

by Lyra
Vanguard Party 2.1 (October, 2002)

The world has greatly been affected by the AIDS epidemic. In this country, AIDS greatly stigmatized Homosexuals, due in part to the CDC naming the disease GRID in 1981. Many Americans still feel AIDS is a gay disease or a junkie’s disease, but hopefully, more people realize that anyone can contract AIDS. Sociologist will point out that the majority of new American AIDS patients are poor and from urban areas. This is not surprise, of course a disease spreads more rapidly in enclosed spaces, but this does not make it a class disease. It is not racist, sexist, ageist or classist. It, like all communicable diseases, doesn’t give a damn who we are. If given a chance it will attack us, now we have to learn how to fight back. We all know not to share needles and to wear condoms, and yet the disease spreads. It spreads rapidly throughout Africa, where the vast majority of sufferers will never get treatment. And, it spreads throughout this country, infecting people you see everyday. People you may love. Educate yourself, learn what you can do to stop it. Tell congress and the world that this disease must stop.

1959 – First confirmed case of AIDS (discovered years later by blood tests)

1981 – Center for Disease Control publishes news of an outbreak, it is referred to as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). Victims were reported in Los Angeles and New York and the causes of death were pneumonia and a rare form of cancer.

1982 – Disease found in women, men, and babies. It is linked with blood transfusions and drug use. CDC declares it an epidemic, and rename it AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Fourteen nations report cases of Aids outbreak.

1983 – Researchers in France isolate the retrovirus named lymphadenophathy-associated virus (LAV), which will be identified as the cause of AIDS. Thirty three countries report AIDS cases.

1984 – Dr. Robert Gallo announces he has found the cause of AIDS, a virus named HTLV-III, two years later doctors realize HTLV-III and LAV are the same and an international committee rename it HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). US Department of Health announces an AIDS vaccine will be ready within two years for human testing. “Gaetan Dugas, known by AIDS researchers as “patient zero,” dies. The Canadian flight attendant was linked sexually to dozens of the first AIDS cases identifies among gay men in the United States.”

1986 - World Health Organization (WHO) launches global AIDS strategy.

1987 – AZT approved by FDA as first AIDS treatment. WHO reports 62,811 of confirmed AIDS cases from 127 countries, but estimates the actual number of cases could be as high as 150,000.

1990 – Ryan White dies at 19, had become famous for fighting for his right to attend public schools. US Congress passes the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (CARE), which provides help for uninsured AIDS patients. Who reports at least 307,000 confirmed cases of AIDS worldwide, but estimates close to a million cases exist.

1991 – LA Lakers basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson announces he has AIDS.1996 – The Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) is formed. The FDA approves protease inhibitors for treating HIV infected people. Triple-drug therapy is preferred over dual-drug therapy giving hope that HIV can be controlled.

1997 – UNAIDS reports an estimate 30 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS, with around 16,000 new cases per day.

1998 – Human trials of an AIDS vaccine begin in the US.

1999 – University of Alabama researchers report a link between HIV and chimpanzees in west central Africa.

2001 – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calls for at least $7 billion a year to combat AIDS. South Africa’s AIDS report shows 4.7 million people affected with virus, one in four South African adults believed to be infected. An estimated 21 million have died from Aids, 17 million from sub-Saharan Africa. 36 million more affected with HIV worldwide.


This timeline is a shorten version of the timeline found on CNN.Com’s special edition highlighting twenty years of Aids in America

P.O. Box 266
Bethany, WV 26032