A Timeline of HIV/AIDS.

Since 1995, the death rate associated with HIV and AIDS has dropped by more than 80%, thanks to global uptake of ARV treatment programmes, ARV adherence, and effective HIV prevention programmes.

Read this timeline of HIV/AIDS to learn more.

A Timline of HIV/Aids

Some scientific research has hinted at HIV circulating amongst animal and human populations in the 1800s. While the first origin and source of HIV cannot be absolutely confirmed, HIV began to spread more significantly amongst humans during the 1970s. Scientists believe that, during the 1970s, HIV began circulating amongst the world’s population. As such, it was not recognised as a virus, nor a syndrome. Deaths that are estimated to have been attributable to HIV/AIDS were, most often, linked to other causes or diseases.

During this decade, there existed a core belief that HIV/AIDS seemed to only affect homosexual men, and needle-using drug users. This is why, particularly during the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS was closely linked as a syndrome that affected homosexual men. This led to high levels of discrimination.
During this time, HIV/AIDS (then known as GRID) was considered only a concern for certain risk groups. These included: hemophiliacs, homosexual men, heroin users, and people of Haitian origin.

The source, and severity, of the disease was, however, not yet well known.

Scientists, researchers, and medical professionals began to connect the dots. The development of Kaposi’s Sarcoma in younger patients was noted as a significant development. Typically, Kaposi’s Sarcoma only developed in the elderly, but suddenly many younger patients were developing symptoms thereof. At the same time, new strains of aggressive pneumonia were being noted, with patients often not recovering well enough to work again. Soon, the development of other associated opportunistic infections began to be noticed, and the first official diagnosis of HIV/AIDS took place in late 1981.

HIV/AIDS was first known as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID), owing to its high prevalence amongst homosexual men.

GRID is renamed to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and its associated syndrome, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is officially diagnosed for the first time.

The US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) uses the term “AIDS” for the first time and releases the first case definition for AIDS.

The first cases of HIV/AIDS in heterosexual patients are picked up in Africa.

The first cases of HIV infection amongst heterosexual women are diagnosed.

In a first attempt to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst needle-using drug users, several Needle Exchange programmes were set up in the US and other regions.

In the US, the CDC established the first AIDS helpline, to manage public queries and concerns around HIV/AIDS.

Mortality rate of diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases reaches nearly 100%.

Project CIDA launched in Africa, the largest HIV/AIDS research project undertaken on the continent, during the 1980s.

First high-level International AIDS meetings were held.
First International AIDS Conference held in the USA.

The CDC and other medical bodies confirm a link between HIV and AIDS, and revise the case definitions for both, bringing them in line with current research, study, and treatment.

First HIV test, known as the ELISA test, approved for use.

First medical trials of Azidothymidine (AZT) begin, quickly proving the drug’s effectiveness in preventing the replication of HIV. AZT was originally formulated as a cancer treatment drug.

First cases of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV confirmed.

AZT trial ended, with all patients who participated in the trial moved over to AZT on a long-term basis. Further medical trials continue, in a search to find effective treatment for HIV/AIDS.

First World AIDS Day held on 01 December 1988.

142000 cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed worldwide. Estimates, however, far exceed reported cases.

8 to 10 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.

The red ribbon is announced as an international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness.

Case definition for differentiating between HIV and AIDS continues to develop, as the CDC announces that a CD-4 count below 200 is considered AIDS.

10 minute HIV test kit released in the US.

2.5 million cases of HIV/AIDS confirmed worldwide.

HIV/AIDS is listed as the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.

UNAIDS established.

Combination therapies for treating HIV/AIDS are confirmed, and a global medical approach confirmed. These combination treatment programmes serve different populations of people, including adults and children. But, the initial combination therapies were complex, and often involved using multiple types of drugs every day. Some patients found their treatment regimes confusing or difficult to follow. The first iteration of ARV combination therapies was known as HAART.

The number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS begins to fall in the US, as treatment programmes prove more and more effective.

Wide-spread global education programmes around HIV prevention begin to take place. These focused quite closely on condom usage.

The development and implementation of easier ARV treatment programmes begins, with guidelines for treating adults and adolescents released.

In South Africa, the ruling party refuses to enable and allow access to ARV treatment programmes, leading to wide-scale dissent. In December 1998, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) launches, in an effort to force the government to allow citizens access to ARV treatment.

Owing to a stance of AIDS denialism, incorrect science, and a deeply entrenched belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, significant misinformation abounds in South Africa. Further, ministerial appointments that seem to advance the agenda of AIDS denialism cause significant concern amongst the scientific and activist communities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announces that HIV/AIDS is the 4th biggest cause of death worldwide, and the number 1 cause of death across the African continent.

UNAIDS negotiates with 5 pharmaceutical companies, and manages the distribution of ARV treatment to several regions, at a reduced cost.

The development and manufacturing of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS continues apace, and the cost of these life-saving drugs begins to drop.

UNAIDS declares that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death across Sub-Saharan Africa.

First rapid HIV test approved for use.

Up to 40% of Botswana’s adult population is recorded as HIV-positive.

In the US, PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) is established, with $18 billion channeled to the programme, to support and guide HIV prevention programmes across the globe.

34.6 to 42.3 million people are living with HIV.

More than 20 million people have died of AIDS.

South Africa records 5.3 million people are HIV-positive.

AllLife is established.

2.2 million deaths as a result of HIV/AIDS are recorded.

AllLife launches its first range of products to insure the lives of HIV-positive people. As the first life insurance provider in South Africa to provide life cover for people living with HIV, AllLife quickly begins to grow its business and care models for its client base.

Revised guidelines for HIV testing are released.

Rapid antibody tests are implemented and approved on a wide scale, to speed up HIV testing processes across the globe.

The South African government approves the roll-out of ARV treatment programmes through the public healthcare system. It does, however, not initiate complete implementation until much later on in the 2000s.

The South African Health Minister continues her stance of AIDS denialism, and is supported in doing so by the then-President, Thabo Mbeki.

68% of the global total population of HIV-positive people are estimated to live within Sub-Saharan Africa.

Owing to his stance of AIDS denialism and other political infighting, Thabo Mbeki is recalled from his position as President of South Africa.

Kgalema Motlanthe steps into the role as President of South Africa. He immediately replaces the Minister of Health with Barbara Hogan, who is not an AIDS denialist. Hogan immediately commits to advancing and expanding the country’s ARV treatment programme, to include PMTCT and treatment of children.

AllLife launches life cover and life insurance options for Diabetics.

In the US, the FDA approves its 100th drug for treating HIV/AIDS.

Jacob Zuma is elected President of South Africa, and actively changes the government stance on HIV/AIDS.

2.7 million new HIV infections take place across the globe.

The Berlin Patient, Timothy Ray Brown, is announced as the first person to ever be cured of HIV, 4 years after completing treatment. It must be noted, however, that he became cured thanks to a combination of treatment and an organ transplant. No effective cure for HIV exists as yet.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is approved for use by individuals at a high risk of HIV infection in the US, by the FDA.

Out of the global total of 35.3 million people living with HIV, an estimated 3.6 million are people aged 50 years or more.

A UNAIDS report outlines that, of the estimated 35.3 million people living with HIV, more than 19 million remain undiagnosed.

Ten years after the HIV/AIDS epidemic is considered to have peaked, the number of infections and deaths linked to HIV/AIDS begins to decline.

35% decline in new HIV infections worldwide.

15.8 million people are now receiving ARV treatment worldwide.

2.1 million new HIV infections recorded worldwide.

17 million people are now receiving ARV treatment worldwide.

TruVada, a generic version of the PrEP drugs, is approved for use in Canada, and later on across the globe.

Research reveals that HIV-positive people on long-term ARV treatment programmes no longer transmit HIV. This condition becomes known as “undetectable”.

21 million people are now receiving ARV treatment worldwide.

37.9 million people are estimated to be living with HIV worldwide.

24 million people are receiving ARV treatment worldwide.

25.4 million people were receiving antiretroviral treatment.

Since 1995, the death rate for HIV/AIDS has dropped by more than 80%, thanks to global uptake of ARV treatment programmes, ARV adherence, and effective HIV prevention programmes.

25.4 million people are on ARV treatment programmes.

67% of HIV-positive people are receiving ARV treatment worldwide.

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