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HIV/AIDS - Timeline

Timeline: 1940 - 1989

The oldest Human Immunodeficiency Virus-2 (HIV-2) jumps from animals to humans, according to a Washington-based study in May 2003. Some sources say that the jump of the disease from animals to humans was made even earlier in the 1930s, others claim it was later than the 1940s. 
In Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, a seemingly healthy man walks into a hospital clinic to give blood for a Western-backed study of blood diseases. 25 years later in the 1980s, researchers studying the spreading Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic, take a second look at the blood and discover that it contains HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS.
African doctors see a rise in opportunistic infections and wasting, but Western scientists and doctors remain ignorant of the growing epidemic.
This year is usually referred to as the beginning of the HIV/Aids epidemic in the USA as the first cases of rare pneumonia (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or PCP) in young gay men are reported in California and New York(later found to be HIV/Aids).  At this stage doctors believed that the disease only affected gay men.
December, It becomes clear that the disease affects other population groups, when the first cases of PCP are reported in injecting drug users. At the same time the first case of AIDS was documented in the UK.
Aids is reported in several European countries.
In Uganda, doctors were seeing the first cases of a new, fatal wasting disease. This illness soon became known locally as 'slim'.
Community organisations in the UK and USA begin promoting safer sex among gay men.
The first official case of AIDS in South Africa is reported. A South African man contracted the virus while in California, USA.
June, A report of a group of cases amongst gay men in Southern California suggested that the disease might be caused by an infectious agent that was sexually transmitted. Later on in the same month, Aids is reported among hemophiliacs and Haitians in the USA.
September, The USA’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally establishes the term “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” (Aids).
December, A 20-month old child who had received multiple transfusions of blood and blood products died from infections related to AIDS. This case provided clearer evidence that AIDS was caused by an infectious agent, and it also caused additional concerns about the safety of the blood supply. Also in December, the CDC reported the first cases of possible mother to child transmission of AIDS.
January, Reports of AIDS among women with no other risk factors suggested the disease might be passed on through heterosexual sex.
March, The CDC stated that, "persons who may be considered at increased risk of AIDS include those with symptoms and signs suggestive of AIDS; sexual partners of AIDS patients; sexually active homosexual or bisexual men with multiple partners; Haitian entrants to the United States; present or past abusers of IV drugs; patients with haemophilia; and sexual partners of individuals at increased risk for AIDS."
Source: www.nature.com
Luc Montagnier
May, Scientists at France's Pasteur Institute, led by Luc Montagnier, isolate the lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV), later to become known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV.
October, First European World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting was held in Denmark. At the meeting it was reported that there had been 2,803 AIDS cases in the USA.
November, First meeting to assess the global AIDS situation is held. This was the start of global surveillance by the WHO and it was reported that AIDS was present in the U.S.A., Canada, fifteen European countries, Haiti and Zaire as well as in seven Latin American countries. There were also cases reported from Australia and two suspected cases in Japan.
Researchers who had visited Central Africa in late 1983 reported they had identified 26 patients with AIDS in Kigali, Rwanda, and 38 in Kinshasa, Zaire. The Rwandan study concluded that, "an association of an urban environment, a relatively high income, and heterosexual promiscuity could be a risk factor for AIDS in Africa". The Zairian study found there to be a "strong indication of heterosexual transmission".
In light of these findings the Zairian Department of Public Health, in collaboration with American and European scientists, launched a national AIDS research programme called Project SIDA.
First small-scale needle and syringe exchange project starts in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (more projects started in 1985 as a result of growing concerns about HTLV-III/LAV).
23 April, US scientist Robert Gallo announces he has isolated the virus, calling it HTLV-III, but it becomes clear that the agent is the same as LAV, identified a year earlier in France.
China reports its first HIV/Aids case; this means that at least 1 HIV/Aids case has been reported from each region of the world.
In many countries a separate "epidemic of fear" and prejudice begins e.g. In the US, it was feared that drinking communion wine from a common cup could transmit AIDS, and Ryan White, a 13-year old hemophiliac with AIDS, was barred from school.
Source: New York State Health Department © "This is not a setting for AIDS" awareness campaign poster by AVERT. The copyright owner of this image is New York State Health Department ©.
The CDC removed Haitians from their list of AIDS risk groups, in light of information that suggested both heterosexual contact and exposure to contaminated needles played a role in transmission.
First deaths from AIDS occur in South Africa.
Knowledge of transmission routes changes again, when the first report appeared of the transmission of the virus from mother to child through breast feeding.
Western scientists became much more aware of the "slim disease" that had become increasingly common in South West Uganda since 1982. Studies found that most cases were among promiscuous heterosexuals, the majority of whom tested positive for antibodies to HTLV-III/LAV. The site and timing of the first reported cases suggested that the disease arose in neighboring Tanzania. Some scientists who studied slim concluded: "Although slim disease resembles AIDS in many ways, it seems to be a new entity."
January, U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed, for commercial production, the first the first HIV test for screening blood supplies.
April, First International Aids Conference is held in Atlanta, USA (Hosted by US Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organisation (WHO)).
October, Movie actor Rock Hudson becomes first major public figure known to have died of Aids.
Calls begin for a global education campaign on condom use and HIV/Aids prevention.  
Uganda begins promoting sexual behaviour change in response to AIDS.
By the end of the year, 85 countries had reported 38,401 cases of AIDS to the World Health Organisation. By region these were: Africa 2,323, Americas 31,741, Asia 84, Europe 3,858, and Oceania 395.
May, "The name of the virus had itself become a political football as the French insisted on LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus), while Gallo's group used HTLV-3 (human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type 3)." - Time Magazine
The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses ruled that both names should be dropped and the dispute solved by a new name, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
September, Clinical trial tests show that a drug called azidothymidine (AZT) slowed down the attack of HIV
The first anti-retroviral drug is approved in the USA.
US President Ronald Reagan, who had been accused of neglecting Aids, delivers speech that describes the disease as "public enemy No.1." and the American government conducts a national AIDS education campaign.
US FDA sanctions first human testing of candidate vaccine against HIV.
President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia announces his son has died of Aids, a landmark in the campaign against stigma in Africa.
The apartheid government recognized that HIV and AIDS had the potential to become ‘a major problem’, even though there were few reported infections.
African Research and Educational Puppetry Programme (AREPP) is founded as a community-based educational trust in South Africa. It is used to break down racial, cultural, language and educational taboos and barriers on HIV/AIDS at a time in South Africa’s history, HIV/AIDS posed a threat that had not yet been fully realized.
Health ministers meet to discuss AIDS and establish a World AIDS Day.
In England the first specialist AIDS hospital ward was opened by Princess Diana. The fact that she did not wear gloves when shaking hands with people with AIDS was widely reported in the press.
World Aids Day first declared by WHO on 1 December.
UNAids reports that the number of women living with HIV/Aids in sub-Saharan Africa exceeds that of men. 
The AIDS Foundation of South Africa is established as an agency seeking to identify and develop initiatives, which reduce the impact of AIDS in under-resourced communities.