On June 5, 1981, the first published report emerged of five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles diagnosed with what would soon become known as AIDS. One year later, the first AIDS case was reported in Sub-Saharan Africa.

HIV Historical Timeline

75 million people have become infected with HIV and 32 million people have died from AIDS-related illness.

The response to the epidemic was one of fear, ignorance and stigma.

Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV department at WHO said:

“With no effective treatment available in the 1980s, there was little hope for those diagnosed with HIV, facing debilitating illness and certain death within years.”

In 2017, 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV. While the world has committed to ending AIDS by 2030, rates of new infections and deaths are not falling rapidly enough to meet that target. 

One of the biggest challenges in the HIV response has remained unchanged for 30 years: HIV disproportionally affects people in vulnerable populations that are often highly marginalized and stigmatized. Thus, most new HIV infections and deaths are seen in places where certain higher-risk groups remain unaware, underserved or neglected. About 75% of new HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa are in men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons, sex workers, or transgender people, or the sexual partners of these individuals. These are groups who are often discriminated against and excluded from health services.

Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems, WHO said:

“The future of the HIV response will also require looking beyond HIV care provision and ensuring that the disease response is embedded in universal health coverage.

“Ending AIDS is unlikely to ever happen without Integrated health system that provide HIV prevention, diagnosis, and treatment as well as care with other essential health services. and support to other co-morbidities such as TB, NCDs and mental health at the community level. A people-centred, human rights based and holistic approach is crucial.”

Click on this link for more: Why the HIV epidemic is not over

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