HIV or the human immunodeficiency virus is believed to have been around long before it was actually discovered. Research shows that it may have originated in primates and later to humans. No one is for sure how many cases there were in humans before 1970 but by 1980 the virus had spread to five continents. It is also unsure where the virus originated but is widely accepted that it can be traced back to Africa.
The first cases of AIDS were identified among gay men in the early 1980s. As Kaposi’s syndrome, a rare form of cancer, and Pneumocystis carinii pnemonia (PCP), a rare lung infection, seemed to be affecting more and more people in 1981 the Center for Disease control and prevention began tracking the growing population of people whose immune systems had been destroyed. In June of 1981 the CDC published a report of five men in Las Angeles being ill. Some refer to this report as the beginning of AIDS. It may better be referred to as the beginning of the awareness of AIDS in the United States.
Several theories about the “new” disease and its causes surfaced as it became known in the U.S. Knowledge of HIV and AIDs changed quickly and often assumptions were unfounded in only a couple of months. There was not much known about transmission at first and this caused a lot of concern throughout the country. It was first believed that there was no danger to non homosexuals. In December of 1981 when the disease began to affect a different group of people, injecting drug users, this belief began to change.
In August of 1982 the acronym AIDS, standing for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, began appearing in newspapers and journals. It was properly defined by the CDC in September. It was believed the acronym was appropriate because AIDS is something that people acquire and do not inherit, it results in deficiency of the immune system and is a syndrome.
In December of 1982 a 20 month old infant died from AIDS after receiving several blood
References: Avert(2011) History of HIV and AIDS. Retrieved January 18th 2012 from http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-history.htm (2005) The History of AIDS. Retrieved January 19, 2012 from http://fohn.net/history-of-aids/