In June 1981, scientists in the United States reported the first clinical evidence of a disease that would become known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Twenty years later, the AIDS epidemic has spread to every corner of the world. Almost 22 million people have lost their lives to the disease and over 36 million people are today living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But two decades of struggle to control the epidemic have also yielded a growing arsenal of breakthroughs.
" 1981 The first cases of unusual immune system failures are identified among gay men in the United States.
" 1982 Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is defined for the first time. In the course of the year, the three modes of transmission are identified: blood transfusion, mother-to-child, and sexual intercourse.
" 1983 The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is identified as the cause of AIDS. In Africa, a heterosexual AIDS epidemic is revealed.
" 1985 The scope of the growing epidemic becomes manifest. By 1985, at least one case of HIV/AIDS has been reported in each region of the world.
Film star Rock Hudson becomes the first international icon to disclose he has AIDS.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first HIV antibody test and HIV screening of blood donations begins.
" 1987 Africa's first community-based response to AIDS (The AIDS Support Organisation or TASO) is formed in Uganda. It becomes a role model for similar activities around the world.
The International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) and the Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS are founded.
In February, the World Health Organization (WHO) establishes the Special Programme on AIDS, later to become the Global Programme on AIDS.
The first therapy for AIDS - azidothymidine (AZT) - is approved for use in the United States.
" 1988 In London, health ministers from around the world meet for the first time to discuss the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
" 1991-1993 HIV prevalence in young pregnant women in Uganda begins to decrease - the first significant downturn in a developing country. The success is attributed to countrywide mobilization against the epidemic.
" 1994 Scientists develop the first treatment regimen to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
" 1995 An HIV outbreak in Eastern Europe is detected among injecting drug users.
" 1996 The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is created.
Evidence of the efficacy of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is presented for the first time.
" 1997 Brazil becomes the first developing country to provide antiretroviral therapy through its public health system.
" 1998 The first short-course regimen to prevent mother-to-child transmission is announced.
" 1999 The first efficacy trial of a potential HIV vaccine in a developing country starts in Thailand.
" 2000 The UN Security Council discusses HIV/AIDS for the first time.
" 2001 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan launches his call to action, including the creation of a global fund on AIDS and health.
"Reproduced by kind permission of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)."
Visit www.unaids.org for additional information.
" Introduction " Statistical maps of HIV/AIDS rates worldwide
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