What Are Some Historical Facts About AIDS and HIV?


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Doctors identified the first case of HIV in a human in 1959 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but they suspect the transfer of HIV from animals to humans occurred much earlier, notes Healthline. The first cases of HIV in the United States appeared in 1981, and in June of that year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the symptoms of a disease killing homosexual men but did not name the disease.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first used the term "acquired immune deficiency syndrome," or AIDS, in September 1982, the same year the first clinic began operating in San Francisco, explains Healthline. Dr. Robert Gallo discovered in 1984 that the human immunodeficiency virus not only causes HIV infections but also AIDS. In 1985, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ELISA, a blood test that enabled health care workers to screen blood for the disease much more quickly.

AIDS became the leading cause of death among those between the ages of 25 and 44 in 1994, and the following year the FDA approved the first protease inhibitor to treat the disease, according to Healthline. This marked the beginning of effective new treatment regimens, called antiretroviral therapy, that caused the number of AIDS-related deaths to fall. In 2002, the FDA approved the first kit that allowed people to test themselves for HIV at home with more than 99 percent accuracy. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS, as of 2015, though with treatment people can slow their progression.

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