The disease we know today as AIDS has been around for several hundreds of years. Scientific evidence shows that the HIV virus was contracted by humans from monkeys around 1675. However, the most relevant years regarding the discovery of AIDS to us today are the late 1970s and early 1980s.
History of AIDS AT-A-Glance:
Here we provide a brief outline of the history of AIDS beginning in 1978 when the first cases of AIDS began to be noticed:
1978 - Gay men in the United States and Sweden, and heterosexuals in Tanzania and Haiti-- begin showing signs of what we call AIDS today.
1980 - The total number of deaths in the United States is 31.
1981 - Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA notice an alarming rate of a rare cancer (Kaposi's Sarcoma) in otherwise healthy gay men. They first call the disease "gay cancer" and soon rename it Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). At this point, 422 cases had been diagnosed in the U.S. and 159 are dead.
1982 - Researchers at CDC link the new found disease (AIDS) to blood. The term AIDS ("Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome") is used for the first time. A total of 1,614 cases of AIDS diagnosed in the U.S. and 619 are dead.
1983 - The CDC warns blood banks of a possible problem with the blood supply in the U.S. Researchers at the Pasteur Institute discover the HIV virus. A total of 4,749 cases of AIDS have been diagnosed in the U.S. and 2,122 persons are dead because of the disease.
1984 - Dr. Robert Gallo, an American scientist, claims to have discovered the virus that causes AIDS. However, his claim is about a year after the French discovery of HIV. A few years later, Dr. Gallo wrote a letter retracting his claim saying that blood in his lab had been contaminated by a sample sent by to him by French scientists. By this year, 11,055 cases of AIDS were diagnosed in the U.S. and 5,620 deaths were recorded.
1985 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first HIV antibody test. Blood products begin to be tested in the United States and Japan. The first International Conference on AIDS took place in Atlanta, GA. By this time, a total of 22,996 cases of AIDS were diagnosed in the U.S. and 12,592 deaths. Also, this year, famous film star, Rock Hudson died of AIDS. His death made the disease known among the public.>
1987 - AZT becomes the first anti-HIV drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.S. shuts its doors to HIV-infected immigrants and travelers. After a six-year silence, President Ronald Reagan uses the word "AIDS" in public for the first time. Vice President George Bush is taunted when he calls for mandatory HIV testing. The AIDS Memorial Quilt is started in San Francisco, California. A total of 71,176 AIDS cases are diagnosed in the U.S. and 41,027 people are dead.
1988 - The United States government> prohibits discrimination against federal workers infected with HIV. The World Health Organization designates December 1st as World AIDS Day. A total of 106,994 AIDS cases diagnosed in the U.S. and 62,101 people are dead.
1990 - Ronald Reagan apologized for his neglect of the AIDS epidemic while he was president.
1991 - Ten million people are infected with HIV around the world. More than a million of those infected are in the U.S. Professional basketball player Magic Johnson announces he has HIV.
1995 - The United States admits that researchers at the Pasteur Institute of France instead of Dr. Robert Gallo discovered the HIV virus. Olympic diver Greg Louganis discloses he has AIDS.
1996 - Basketball star Magic Johnson returns to play professional basketball, while heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison announces he has HIV.
1997 - Approximate total deaths due to AIDS is 6,400,000 and of HIV-positive people is 22,000,000 in the world.