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AIDS Timeline

This timeline features some of the most important developments in the history of AIDS. Much more detailed information can be found in our AIDS history section.

Before 1970s

  • HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) probably transfers to humans in Africa between 1884 and 1924.
  • HIV probably enters Haiti around 1966.


  • HIV probably enters the United States around 1970.
  • African doctors see a rise in opportunistic infections and wasting.
  • Western scientists and doctors remain ignorant of the growing epidemic.



  • AIDS is reported among haemophiliacs and Haitians in the USA.
  • AIDS is reported in several European countries.
  • The name “AIDS” – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – is created.
  • Community organisations in the UK and USA promote safer sex among gay men.


  • AIDS is reported among non-drug using women and children.
  • Experts become more confident that the cause of AIDS is infectious.
  • Three thousand AIDS cases have been reported in the USA; one thousand have died.


  • Scientists identify HIV (initially called HTLV-III or LAV) as the cause of AIDS.
  • Western scientists become aware that AIDS is widespread in parts of Africa.
  • The world's first needle exchange program is set up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


  • An HIV test is licensed for screening blood supplies.
  • AIDS is found in China, and has therefore been seen in all regions of the world.


  • More than 38,000 cases of AIDS have been reported from 85 countries.
  • Uganda begins promoting sexual behaviour change in response to AIDS.


  • AZT is the first drug approved for treating AIDS.
  • The UK and other countries act to raise awareness of AIDS.


  • The American government conducts a national AIDS education campaign.
  • Health ministers meet to discuss AIDS and establish a World AIDS Day.


  • Around 8 million people are living with HIV worldwide, according to estimates made later.


  • Thailand launches Asia’s most extensive HIV prevention programme.


  • AZT is shown to be of no benefit to those in the early stages of HIV infection.



  • The Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) is established.


  • Combination antiretroviral treatment is shown to be highly effective against HIV.
  • In developed countries, many people begin taking the new treatment.
  • Annual global spending on AIDS in low- and middle-income countries is $300 million.


  • AIDS deaths begin to decline in developed countries, due to the new drugs.
  • Brazil is the first developing country to begin providing free combination treatment.
  • In other developing countries, only a tiny minority can access treatment for HIV.
  • Around 22 million people are living with HIV worldwide, according to estimates made later.



  • At a UN Special Session, world leaders set long-term targets on HIV/AIDS.


  • The Global Fund is established to boost the response to AIDS, TB and malaria.
  • Botswana begins Africa’s first national AIDS treatment programme.


  • AIDS drugs become more affordable for developing countries.
  • The “3 by 5” campaign is launched to widen access to AIDS treatment.
  • The first HIV vaccine candidate to undergo a major trial is found to be ineffective.


  • America launches a major initiative called PEPFAR to combat AIDS worldwide.
  • After much hesitancy, South Africa begins to provide free antiretroviral treatment.


  • Circumcision is shown to reduce HIV infection among heterosexual men.
  • 28% of people in developing countries who need treatment for HIV are receiving it.
  • Annual global spending on AIDS in low- and middle-income countries is $8.9 billion.
  • It is estimated that $14.9 billion would be needed for a truly effective response.


  • Around 33 million people are living with HIV, according to revised estimates.
  • Another major HIV vaccine trial is halted after preliminary results show no benefit.


  • A controversial Swiss study claims people adhering to ARVs have a "negligibly small" risk of transmitting HIV through unprotected sex.
  • PEPFAR is reauthorised, committing $48 billion for the next five years.
  • Michel Sidibé is named as new head of UNAIDS as Peter Piot steps down.


  • President Obama announces the removal of the travel ban that prevents HIV-positive people from entering the US.
  • 4 million people in developing and transitional countries are receiving treatment for HIV; 9.5 million are still in immediate need of treatment.


  • The United States, South Korea, China and Namibia lift their travel bans for people living with HIV.
  • The CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial is hailed a success after results show the gel reduced the risk of HIV infection by 40%.
  • Results from the iPrEx trial show a reduction in HIV acquisition among men who have sex with men taking PrEP.


  • Results from the HPTN 052 trial show that early initiation of antiretroviral treatment reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 96% among discordant couples.
  • Armenia and Fiji lift their travel restrictions for people living with HIV.
  • FDA approval of Complera, the second all-in-one fixed dose combination tablet, expands the treatment options available for people living with HIV.
  • The Global Fund announce the replacement of Round 11 with a Transitional Funding Mechanism (TFM), due to a lack of funds.


  • UNAIDS release new guidelines regarding ARV treatment as prevention, for serodiscordant couples.
  • UN Women joins UNAIDS as a Cosponsor.
  • The Republic of Moldova lifts its travel ban for people living with HIV.
  • The US' FDA announces approval of HIV-negative people taking PrEP to prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
  • For the first time, a majority of people eligible for treatment (54%) are receiving ARVs.


  • Mongolia removes all travel restrictions for those living with HIV.
  • Collaboration between Medicines Patent Pool and ViiV Healthcare to increase access to ARV treatment for children.
  • UNAIDS reports AIDS-related deaths down 30 percent since their peak in 2005.
  • Uzbekistan lifts all restrictions on entry, stay and residence for people living with HIV.
  • 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS raises concerns about increases in AIDS-related deaths among adolescents.
  • Uganda passes Anti-Homosexuality Bill.


  • Tajikistan lifts travel restrictions for people living with HIV.
  • UNAIDS report shows that 19 million of the 35 million people thought to be living with HIV do not know their status.
  • UNAIDS Gap Report identifies 11 key affected populations vulnerable to HIV.
  • Global leaders commit to ending the HIV epidemic in cities by 2030.
  • 2014 AIDS Conference was held in Melbourne, Australia with the slogan 'Stepping up the pace'. On 17 July, some delegates died on flight MH17 on their way to the event.
  • New “Fast Track” targets involving the dramatic scale-up of HIV prevention and treatment programmes aimed to avert 28 million new infections and end the epidemic as a public health issue by 2030.
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