AIDS Work

Providing help for people with HIV and AIDS

Brief History of AIDS

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AIDS describes itself – it is not a disease as such, rather a condition of various signs and symptoms (a syndrome) due to an immune deficiency that is not inherited, therefore it must be acquired from somewhere.

AIDS was first noticed in 1981 from reports of previously rare diseases appearing in unexpectedly high numbers of homosexual men.  Two years later a new, unique virus was isolated from a patient with persistent generalized Lymphadenopathy.  Subsequent characterization of the virus, and repeated isolations and antibody detection from at-risk populations as well as those with frank AIDS, further established this virus as the etiologic agent, eventually resulting in its naming as Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Since that time HIV has been estimated to have infected over 33 million people worldwide, the vast majority in Africa.  Relatively few cases are seen in the developed nations, but they still number in the hundreds of thousands.  As of Dec 1999 North America was said to have 920,000 people currently living with HIV and AIDS and 16.3 million people are said to have died from AIDS worldwide.

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