Timeline of HIV/AIDS

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This is a timeline of HIV/AIDS, attempting to describe important events in the history of the virus and the disease.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1960s Experts suggest that about 2,000 people in Africa may have been infected with HIV during this decade. Stored blood samples from an American malaria research project carried out in the Congo in 1959 prove one such example of early HIV infection.[1] The 1960s and the following decade are known as the “silent” decades as it is likely that HIV already circulated sometime during these times but was unknown or not reported. The spread would start in 1970’s when the medical community becomes aware.[2]
1970s The first epidemic of HIV/AIDS is believed to have occurred in Kinshasa. The emerging epidemic in the Congolese capital is signalled by a surge in opportunistic infections, such as cryptococcal meningitis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, tuberculosis and specific forms of pneumonia. It is speculated that HIV is brought to the city by an infected individual who travelled from Cameroon by river down into the Congo. On arrival in Kinshasa, the virus would enter a wide urban sexual network and spread quickly, giving riseto the world’s first heterosexually-spread HIV epidemic.[1]
1980s AIDS crisis decade, starting with the acknowledgement of a new epidemics in the United States. From 1981 through 1987, the average life expectancy for people diagnosed with AIDS is 18 months.[3] HIV begins its spread in Asia in the early to mid-1980s.[3]
1990s In the 1990s, a substantial increase in the number of people infected with HIV and dying of AIDS is recorded. In 1997, almost 3.5 million people are diagnosed with HIV per year. After 1997, the number of new diagnoses begins to decline and in 2015 it is reduced to 2.1 million per year.[4]
2000s< The number of AIDS-related deaths reaches a peak in 2004 and 2005 when in both years 2 million people die. Since then the annual number of deaths from AIDS declines as well and a decade later it is almost halved when 1.1 million people die in 2015.[4]

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
1920s According to scientists, the origin of AIDS pandemic may be traced to this decade in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.[5]
1930 Infection A complex computer model of the evolution of HIV-1 suggests that the first transfer of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) to humans occur around that year.[1]
1940s Infection HIV-2 transferral from monkeys to humans in Guinea-Bissau is calculated at some point in the decade.[1]
1959 Infection Early documented HIV-1 infection is discovered in a preserved blood sample taken in 1959 from a man from Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo.[6]
1960 Infection A second early documented HIV-1 infection is discovered in a preserved lymph node biopsy sample taken in 1960 from a woman from Léopoldville, Belgian Congo.[7]
1969 May Notable death 16-year-old African-American Robert Rayford dies at the St. Louis City Hospital from Kaposi's sarcoma. In 1987 researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine would detect "a virus closely related or identical to" HIV-1 in his preserved blood and tissues.[8][9][10][11]
1971 Diagnosis The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is introduced by Swedish immunologist Peter Perlmann and Eva Engvall at Stockholm University in Sweden, as a test that uses antibodies and color change to identify a substance. ELISA would later be used for the detection of HIV antibodies in blood samples.[12][13][14]
1972–1973 Infection Researchers draw blood from 75 children in Uganda to serve as controls for a study of Burkitt's lymphoma. In 1985, retroactive testing of the frozen blood serum indicate that antibodies to a virus related to HIV are present in 50 of the children.[15]
1975–1976 Infection Norwegian sailor Arvid Noe, his wife, and his seven-year-old daughter die of AIDS. The sailor first presented symptoms in 1969, eight years after he first spent time in ports along the West African coastline. A gonorrhea infection during his first African voyage shows he was sexually active at this time. Tissue samples from the sailor and his wife were tested in 1988 and found to contain HIV-1 (Group O).[16][17]
1979 Diagnosis Western blot is introduced as a method for protein analysis. Since then, it would become an essential assay for protein researchers, and it would be used to confirm ELISA results.[18][19][20]
1981 June 5 Publication The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), describing cases of a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), in five young, previously healthy, men who have sex with men in Los Angeles.[21]
1981 July 3 Epidemiology The New York Times reports an outbreak of opportunistic infections and Kaposi's sarcoma among previously healthy men who have sex with men in New York and California.[22][23]
1981 December Epidemiology The first cases of PCP are reported in people who inject drugs.[24]
1982 January Hospital The first AIDS clinic in the United States is established in San Francisco.[25]
1982 Scientific development The disease is given several names such as lymphadenopathy (as it causes swelling of lymph glands), gay compromise syndrome and for the popular press, “gay plague”. However, many of the patients are haemophiliacs.[2]
1982 June Epidemiology A group of cases among men who have sex with men in Southern California suggests that the cause of the immune deficiency is sexual and the syndrome is initially called gay-related immune deficiency (GRID). Later that month, the disease is reported in haemophiliacs and Haitians leading many to believe it has originated in Haiti.[24][26]
1982 September 24 Scientific development The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the term 'AIDS' (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) for the first time, describing it as "a disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known case for diminished resistance to that disease."[24][22][27]
1983 January 7 Epidemiology The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cases of AIDS in female sexual partners of males with AIDS.[2][28]
1983 January Epidemiology AIDS is reported among the female partners of men who had the disease, suggesting it could be passed on via heterosexual sex.[24]
1983 February Scientific development American biomedical researcher Robert Gallo, from the National Institutes of Health, suggests that a retrovirus probably causes AIDS.[25]
1983 May Virology French virologist rançoise Barré-Sinoussi and her colleagues at the Pasteur Institute in France report the discovery of a new retrovirus called Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus (or LAV) that could be the cause of AIDS.[24][29]
1983 June Epidemiology The first reports of AIDS in children hints that it could be passed via casual contact but later it is concluded that they have probably directly acquired AIDS from their mothers before, during or shortly after birth.[24]
1983 September Scientific development The CDC identifies all major routes of transmission and rules out transmission by casual contact, food, water, air or surfaces.[24]
1983 November Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) holds its first meeting to assess the global AIDS situation and begins international surveillance.[24]
1983 December Epidemiology The number of AIDS cases in the United States rises to 3,064 with 1,292 deaths.[24]
1983 Epidemiology Blood specimens show a 16 percent infection rate among tested gay men in Johannesburg. The small-scale epidemic is largely confined to white gay men and remains virtually unheard of in the general population in the mid–decade. The homosexual epidemic would stop growing by the end of the 1980s.[1]
1983 Diagnosis The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique is developed by American biochemist Kary Mullis.[30][31][32] PCR tests would be used to detect HIV's genetic material.[33]
1983–1987 Policy President Mobutu of the Congo bans the subject of AIDS from the press for four years. Around the same time, Zimbabwean doctors are instructed not to mention AIDS on death certificates.[1]
1984 Infection The first patient in Thailand with AIDS is reported.[34]
1984 April Virology The National Cancer Institute announces they have found the cause of AIDS, the retrovirus HTLV-III. In a joint conference with the Pasteur Institute they announce that LAV and HTLV-III are identical and the likely cause of the disease.[24]
1984 July Prevention The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that avoiding injecting drug use and sharing needles "should also be effective in preventing transmission of the virus.[24][35]
1984 October Policy Bath houses and private sex clubs in San Francisco are closed due to high-risk sexual activity. New York and Los Angeles would follow suit within a year.[24]
1984 December Epidemiology There have been 7,699 AIDS cases and 3,665 AIDS deaths in the USA with 762 cases reported in Europe. (Cumulative or only in 1984?).[24]
c.1985 Epidemiology The Western African nation of Guinea-Bissau has the world’s highest level of HIV-2, with 26% of paid blood donors, 8.6% of pregnant women and 36.7% of sex workers testing positive. The virus spreads into rural areas of southern Senegal and Gambia but HIV-2 is not infectious enough to generate an epidemic beyond this region.[1]
1985 Virology Another retrovirus of the HIV family is isolated from persons living in West Africa.[22]
1985 March Medical development The United States Food and Drug Administration licenses the first commercial blood test, ELISA, to detect antibodies to the virus. Blood banks begin to screen the USA blood supply.[36][24]
1985 April Organization The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the World Health Organization host the first International AIDS Conference in Atlanta.[24]
1985 October 2 Notable death American actor Rock Hudson dies from AIDS, and leaves $250,000 to set up the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Hudson is considered the first high profile AIDS fatality in the United States.[24]
1985 December Epidemiology Every region in the world has reported at least one case of AIDS, with 20,303 cases in total.[24]
1985 Virology LAV and HTLV-3 are shown to be the same virus.[2]
1986 Prevention A prevention program is launched in Uganda. By this time the country is in the midst of a major epidemic, with a prevalence rate of 26% in its capital city.[24]
1986 May Scientific development The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses declares that the virus that causes AIDS will officially be known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
1986 May Virology The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses says that the virus that causes AIDS will officially be called HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) instead of HTLV-III/LAV.[25][24]
1986 Prevention The first United Kingdom government AIDS awareness campaign begins and is called “Don’t aid AIDS”.[2]
1987 Prevention The Ugandan AIDS control program formulates a five-year plan with the assistance of the World Health Organization. The plan is later made a model for Africa and receives more than £20 million in donor funding.[1][3]
1987 February Prevention The World Health Organization launches The Global Program on AIDS to raise awareness; generate evidence-based policies; provide technical and financial support to countries; conduct research; promote participation by NGOs; and promote the rights of people living with HIV.[24]
1987 March Drug The Unites States Food and Drug Administration approves the first antiretroviral drug, zidovudine (AZT), as treatment for HIV.[24][37]
1987 April Diagnosis The Unites States Food and Drug Administration approves the Western blot blood test kit, a more specific test for HIV antibodies.[25]
1987 May 31 Organization United States President Ronald Reagan makes his first public speech about AIDS and establishes a Presidential Commission on HIV.[25]
1987 July Scientific development The World Health Organization confirms that HIV could be passed from mother to child during breastfeeding.[24]
1987 October AIDS becomes the first illness debated in the United Nations General Assembly.[24]
1987 Drug Azidothymidine (also known as zidovudine) is introduced in the United States as the first treatment for HIV.[38]
1987 Organization The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care is founded.[39]
1988 Epidemiology The second highest prevalence rate of HIV in all of Africa is found on the Tanzam road linking Tanzania and Zambia. The disease moves further south through Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana.[1]
1988 April Organization The World Health Organization holds an International Consultation on Health Legislation and Ethics in the Fields of HIV/AIDS in Oslo, with the decision to advocate bringing down barriers between people who are infected and those who are not infected and placing actual barriers (e.g. condoms) between individuals and the virus.[40]
1988 December 1 The World Health Organization declares 1st December as the first World AIDS Day.[24][2]
1988 Organization The International AIDS Society is founded in Stockholm, Sweden. It is the world's largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries.[41][42][43]
1989 March Epidemiology 145 countries report 142,000 AIDS cases. However, the WHO estimates there war up to 400,000 cases worldwide.[24]
1989 June Prevention The CDC releases the first guidelines to prevent Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) - an opportunistic infection that is a major cause of death among people with AIDS.[24]
1989 July Organization The first international consultation on AIDS and human rights is organized by the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, in cooperation with the World Health Organization/GPA.[40]
1989 Epidemiology By the end of the decade, the southern African countries of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana are on the verge of overtaking East Africa as the focus of the global HIV epidemic.[1]
1990 June The 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco protests against the United States's immigration policy which stopped people with HIV from entering the country. NGOs boycot the conference.[24]
1990 July Policy The United States government enacts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities including people living with HIV.[24]
1990 October Drug The Food and Drug Administration approves the use of zidovudine (AZT) to treat children with AIDS.[24]
1991 November Notable death British singer Freddie Mercury announces he has AIDS and dies a day later.[24]
1991 Drug Dideoxycytidine (ddC), the third drug to slow progression of AIDS, is developed.[2]
1992 Drug The first combination drug therapies for HIV are introduced.[44]
1993 March Policy The United States Congress votes overwhelmingly to retain the ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV.[24]
1993 Scientific development The CDC adds pulmonary tuberculosis, recurrent pneumonia and invasive cervical cancer to the list of AIDS indicators.[24]
1993 Resistance The first resistance to Zidovudine by the HIV is reported.[2]
1993 December Epidemiology There are an estimated 9 million people infected in the sub-Saharan region out of a global total of 14 million.[1] An estimated 2.5 million AIDS cases are reported globally in the year.[24]
1993 Organization The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) is created to provide a forum for basic scientists and clinical investigators to present, discuss, and critique their investigations into the epidemiology and biology of human retroviruses and associated diseases.[45][46][47]
1994 Drug It is discovered that the antiretroviral drug zidovudine (AZT) could reduce mother-to-child transmission by two-thirds.[1][2]
1994 February Organization The Asia-Pacific Network of people with HIV/ AIDS is established.[48]
1994 August Drug the United States Public Health Service recommends the use of AZT to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV.[24]
1994 December Diagnosis The United States Food and Drug Administration approves an oral HIV test - the first non-blood HIV test.[24]
1995 June Drug The United States Food and Drug Administration approves the first protease inhibitor beginning a new era of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART). Once incorporated into clinical practice HAART would bring about an immediate decline of between 60% and 80% in rates of AIDS-related deaths and hospitalisation in those countries which could afford it.[24]
1995 Epidemiology AIDS becomes the main cause of death in 25-44 age group in the United States.[2]
1995 December Epidemiology There are an estimated 4.7 million new HIV infections worldwide - 2.5 million in southeast Asia and 1.9 million in sub-Saharan Africa.[24]
1995 Organization The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition is founded as a non-profit with the purpose of accelerating ethical development and delivery of AIDS vaccines and other HIV prevention options to populations throughout the world.[49]
1996 January Organization The Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) is launched to advocate for global action on the epidemic and coordinate the response to HIV and AIDS across the United Nations.[24][50]
1996 December Epidemiology By the end of the year, the estimated number of people living with HIV is 23 million worldwide.[24]
1997 September Drug The United States Food and Drug Administration approves Combivir, a combination of two antiretroviral drugs, taken as a single daily tablet, making it easier for people living with HIV to take their medication.[24]
1997 Epidemiology UNAIDS estimates that 30 million people have HIV worldwide equating to 16,000 new infections a day.[24]
1998 Epidemiology Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 70% of people who became infected with HIV during the year, with an estimated one in seven of these new infections occurring in South Africa.[1]
1998 Drug Glaxo Wellcome cuts the price of zidovudine AZT by 75%.[1]
1999 January 31 Virology Studies suggest that a retrovirus, SIVcpz (simian immunodeficiency virus) from the common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes, may have passed to human populations in west equatorial Africa during the twentieth century and developed into various types of HIV.[51][52]
1999 Prevention Botswana launches Africa’s first program to combat mother-to-child transmission.[1]
1999 Epidemiology The World Health Organization announces that AIDS is the fourth biggest cause of death worldwide and number one killer in Africa. An estimated 33 million people are estimated to live with HIV and 14 million people have died from AIDS since the start of the epidemic.[24]
1999 Policy The Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi declares AIDS a national disaster.[1]
1999 Virology An international team of researchers reports having discovered the origins of HIV-1, the predominant strain of HIV in the developed world.[53]
2000 July UNAIDS negotiates with five pharmaceutical companies to reduce antiretroviral drug prices for developing countries.[24]
2000 September Program launch The United Nations adopt the Millennium Development Goals which includes a specific goal to reverse the spread of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.[24]
2000 Prevention HIV Vaccine trials begin in Oxford.[2]
2000 Epidemiology About 34.3 million cases of HIV are estimated worldwide, with largest number in South Africa.[2]
2001 February Organization The Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) is established.[54]
2001 June Program The United Nations (UN) General Assembly calls for the creation of a "global fund" to support efforts by countries and organizations to combat the spread of HIV through prevention, treatment and care including buying medication.[24][1]
2001 November Program The World Trade Organization (WTO) announces the Doha Declaration, which allows developing countries to manufacture generic medications to combat public health crises like HIV.[24]
2001 Epidemiology There are more than 20 million people (based on current estimates) living with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, but only 8,000 people have access to drug treatment.[1]
2002 January Organization The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria begins operations. In April the Global Fund approves its first round of grants totalling US$600 million.[24][50]
2002 July Epidemiology UNAIDS reports that AIDS is already by far the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.[24]
2002 November The United States Food and Drug Administration approves the first rapid HIV test with 99.6% accuracy and a result in 20 minutes.[24][38]
2003 January Organization United States President George W. Bush announces the creation of the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $15 billion, five-year plan to combat AIDS, primarily in countries with a high number of HIV infections.[24]
2003 June Drug Atazanavir is released as an antiretroviral medication for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS.[55]
2003 October Drug Fosamprenavir is marketed for the treatment of HIV infections.[56]
2003 December Program The World Health Organization announces the “3 by 5” initiative to bring HIV treatment to 3 million people by 2005.[24]
2004 February Organization The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launches the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS, with the purpose of uniting civil society groups working on HIV, women, and gender equality.[57]
2004 February Organization China establishes the State Council Working Committee on HIV/AIDS, with the purpose of revamping and upgrading the former National Coordinating Committee on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.[58]
2004 Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan prioritizes HIV/AIDS, stating, "AIDS is a new type of global emergency--an unprecedented threat to human development".[50]
2004 At the Copenhagen Consensus, a policy think tank in Denmark, a panel of eight prominent economists rank controlling HIV/AIDS as the number one economic priority in terms of a cost-benefit analysis in health and nutrition.[50]
2005 Drug companies and makers agree to make available cheaper generic anti-viral drugs.[2]
2005 June Drug Tipranavir is released for the treatment of HIV infection.[59]
2006 January Epidemiology The UNAIDS report estimates that 49% of new 2005 HIV infections were from sexual transmission, and that over 40% of those living with HIV in China were infected through sex.[60]
2006 November 9 Virology The Simian immunodeficiency virus is found in gorillas.[61]
2006 Scientific development Male circumcision is found to reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60%.[24]
2006 Drug Darunavir is released as an antiretroviral medication used to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS.[62]
2006 Organization The Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery is founded when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates US$287 million to promote HIV vaccine research. The organization is an international network of scientists, research organizations, and promoters of HIV vaccine research.[63]
2007 May Prevention The World Health Organization and UNAIDS issue new guidance recommending “provider-initiated” HIV testing in healthcare settings. This is aimed to widen knowledge of HIV status and greatly increase access to HIV treatment and prevention.[24]
2007 A breakthrough bone marrow transplant cures Berlin patient Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV positive Californian living in Germany.[64][65]
2010 January Policy The travel ban preventing HIV-positive people from entering the United States is lifted.[24]
2010 July The CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial is hailed a success after results show that the microbicide gel reduces the risk of HIV infection in women by 40%.[24]
2011 August Drug The United States Food and Drug Administration approves Complera, the second all-in-one fixed dose combination tablet, expanding the treatment options available for people living with HIV.[24]
2011 December Treatment Antiretroviral therapy reaches 8 million people by the end of the year, a twenty-fold increase since 2003. For the first time, a majority (54%) of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries are receiving antiretroviral therapy.[66]
2012 July Drug The United States Food and Drug Administration approves PrEP for HIV-negative people to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.[24]
2013 Epidemiology UNAIDS reports that AIDS-related deaths fell from a high of 2.3 (2.1–2.6) million in 2005 to 1.6 (1.4–1.9) million in 2012.[67]
2014 July Notable death Former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange and other HIV/AIDS researchers are killed in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.[68]
2015 January 8 Scientific development A review of multiple studies of South African women indicates that using Depo Provera, an injectable contraceptive, may increase women’s chances of contracting HIV by 40%.[69]
2015 September Treatment The World Health Organization launches new treatment guidelines recommending that all people living with HIV should receive antiretroviral treatment, regardless of their CD4 count, and as soon as possible after their diagnosis.[24]
2015 November 30 Organization The Foundation for AIDS Research announces the establishment of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research, a collaborative enterprise based at the University of California, San Francisco. The Institute is aimed at supporting teams of scientists working from basic science to clinical studies.[70]
2016 Epidemiology The number of people in Russia living with HIV reaches one million. Newly released figures also show 64% of all new HIV diagnoses in Europe occurred in that country.[24]
2015 Virology New, aggressive strain of HIV is discovered in Cuba.[71] The so called CRF19 strain transforms into the full-blown virus considerably faster than the average conversion time of around 10 years.[72]
2015 August Virology Scientists from the Gladstone Institutes discover that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus's direct effect on the host's immune cells, but rather through the cells' lethal influence on one another. The virus turns host immune cells into suicide machines, using them to spread the virus and cause the progression from HIV to AIDS.[73]
2016 January 28 Drug resistance Researchers announce a global epidemiology of drug resistance after international study of over 1,900 patients with HIV who failed to respond to the antiretroviral drug tenofovir—a key HIV treatment medication—indicates that HIV resistance to the medication is becoming increasingly common.[74]
2016 February 25 At the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), researchers report that a man taking the HIV-prevention drug Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir), has contracted HIV. This marks the first reported infection of someone regularly taking the drug.[75]
2016 March 3 Prevention Pharmacy researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill report finding that women need daily doses of the antiviral medication emtricitabine/tenofovir to prevent HIV infection, while men only need two doses per week due to differences in the way the drug accumulates in vaginal, cervical and rectal tissue.[76]

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External links


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