HIV/AIDS Timeline


January 06, 2012



In June of 1981, five gay men were diagnosed with what we now know as AIDS. In celebration of the past 30 years of HIV/AIDS and the 25th anniversary since The Damien Center was founded, here’s a look at how far we've come:

• 1982: The disease is named AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome; new cases of AIDS in infants are reported.

• 1983: Dr. Robert Gallo suggests that a retrovirus probably causes AIDS. The CDC identifies all major routes of transmission and rules out transmission by casual contact, air, water, food, or environmental factors.

• 1985: ELISA, the first commercial HIV blood test is licensed by the FDA. At least one case of HIV has been reported in every region of the world. Indiana teen Ryan White contracts AIDS due to a blood transfusion for his hemophilia and is refused entry into his middle school.

• 1986: The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses declares that the virus causing AIDS will be known as HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The Surgeon General urges parents and schools to teach children about AIDS and condom use.

• 1987: The first drug antiretroviral drug treatment, AZT, is approved by the FDA. The FDA also approves the Western Blot Blood Test Kit, a more specific test for HIV antibodies. The Damien Center is founded.

• 1989: The number of AIDS cases in the United States reaches 100,000.

• 1990: The US Congress enacts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV/AIDS.

• 1991: Earvin “Magic” Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive.

• 1992: AIDS becomes the #1 cause of death for men ages 25-44.

• 1993: The CDC expands the definition of AIDS, declaring anybody with a CD4 count under 200 to have AIDS. Three new clinical indicators of AIDS are added.

• 1994: AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for all Americans 25-44. The FDA also approves an oral HIV test, the first non-blood-based antibody test for HIV.

• 1995: Olympic Diver Greg Louganis announces that he is HIV-positive. The FDA approves the first protease inhibitor, ushering an era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). 500,000 cases of HIV have been reported in the US.

• 1996: The number of new AIDS cases declines for the first time. It is no longer the leading cause of death for Americans 25-44, though it remains the leading cause for African Americans in that age group.

• 1997: HAART becomes the new standard of HIV care. AIDS-related deaths decline 47%, but drug resistance has become more common.

• 1998: The CDC issues the first national guidelines for antiretroviral therapy. The US Department of Health and Human Services determine that Needle Exchange Programs (NEDs) are effective and do not encourage the use of illicit drugs. The CDC reports that AIDS-mortality in African Americans are almost 10 times that of Whites.

• 1999: The CDC gives a new HIV case definition. The WHO announces that HIV is the fourth biggest killer worldwide, and the #1 killer in Africa. WHO estimates 33 million people are living with HIV worldwide, and 14 million have died of AIDS. VaxGen begin the first human vaccine trials in Thailand.

• 2000: The US declares HIV/AIDS as a threat to US national security.

• 2001: The US Health Resources and Services Administration begins to focus on individuals who are HIV+ but are not receiving services. The CDC announces a new plan to cut annual HIV infections in the US in half within five years.

• 2002: The FDA approves the first rapid HIV testing kit. Unlike other tests, this can be stored at room temperature and requires no specialized equipment, allowing for more widespread HIV testing. Worldwide, 10 million people 15-24 and 3 million children under 15 are living with HIV. 3.5 million new infections will occur in sub-Saharan Africa this year, and 2.4 million Africans will die of AIDS.

• 2003: The CDC estimates that 27,000 of the 40,000 new infections that occur each year are the result of transmission by individuals who do not know they are infected. VaxGen announces that its vaccine trial failed.

• 2004: The CDC approves the use of oral fluid samples with a rapid HIV diagnostic test kit that provides results in 20 minutes.

• 2006: The CDC revises HIV testing recommendations, advising routine HIV screening for all adults 13-64, with a yearly screening for those at high risk. The University of Chicago finds that medical circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV by 53% during heterosexual intercourse.

• 2007: The CDC reports that over 565,000 people have died of AIDS in the US.

• 2008: The CDC releases new data for HIV in the US, suggesting that the incidence of HIV in the US is much higher than previously thought. (56,300 new infections per year vs. 40,000.) These new estimates are not an increase in HIV infections, but reflect a more accurate way of measuring new infections. A spearate analysis suggests that theannual number of new infections was never as low as 40,000, and that it has been relatively stable since the late 1990s.

• 2009: President Obama calls for the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the US. The CDC finds that Washington DC has a higher rate of HIV prevalence than West Africa. The FDA approves the 100th antiretroviral drug. President Obama modifies the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs.

• 2010: The US lifts the HIV travel and imigration ban and releases the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicide is found to be safe and effective at reducing risks of new HIV infections in women by 39%; when used as directed, it ould reduce risks by 54%. The National Institute of Health announced that a daily dose of HIV drugs reduce the risk of HIV transmission in men who have sex with men by 44%.

• 2011: Public debate begins on whether the longstanding ban on transplants of HIV-infected organs should be dropped. The US Department of Health and Human Services launches a comprehensive response in the 12 jurisdictions with the highest AIDS burden.