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Timeline: AIDS Epidemic

Key events, important people, activism and breakthroughs

by David Johnson and Shmuel Ross
1981-1983 1985-1988 1991-1995 1996-Present

1981

"Gay cancer," later called GRID, (Gay Related Immuno Deficiency) claims 121 deaths in the U.S. since the mid-1970s

1982

Scientists call the new disease AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

Center for Disease Control says sexual contact or infected blood could transmit AIDS; U.S. begins formal tracking of all AIDS cases

285 cases reported in 17 U.S. states, five European countries

1983

Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and Dr. Luc Montagnier of France's Pasteur Institute independently identify Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS

1985

Movie actor Rock Hudson dies of AIDS; the resulting publicity greatly increases AIDS awareness

Congress allocates $70 million for AIDS research

First international AIDS conference held in Atlanta

Blood test for HIV approved; screening of U.S. blood supply begins

1986

Soviet Union reports first AIDS case

Surgeon General C. Everett Koop sends AIDS information to all U.S. households

Scientists locate second type of AIDS virus, HIV-2, in West Africa; original virus is HIV-1

1987

FDA approves AZT, a potent new drug for AIDS patients, which prolongs the lives of some patients by reducing infections

1988

World Health Organization begins World AIDS Day to focus attention on fighting the disease

1991

10 million people worldwide estimated to be HIV-positive, including 1 million in U.S.; more than 36,000 Americans have died of AIDS since the late 1970s

1992

The first clinical trials using combinations of multiple drugs begin

FDA begins accelerated approval of experimental AIDS drugs

1993

U.S. annual AIDS deaths approach 45,000

1994

AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death for adults 25-44 years old in U.S.

1995

Saquinavir, the first protease inhibitor (which reduces the ability of AIDS to spread to new cells) is approved



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Did you know?
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover began the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” program in March 1950.

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