AIDS 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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