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History of HIV and AIDS

A red AIDS awareness ribbonThe history of HIV and AIDS is a short one, and the origins of HIV are disputed; yet since it was first reported just over thirty years ago, it has become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. With time, as research, investment and commitment into understanding HIV increased, treatment methods evolved and the outcome of people living with HIV improved around the world.

Covered in this section are detailed year-by-year accounts, including different country responses to preventing, testing and treating HIV.

Moving through our ‘AIDS History Topics’ you will be guided through the history of AIDS from the 1970s up to 1986, AIDS and HIV in the 1990s, to HIV and AIDS in the new millennium; enabling you to learn how the response to HIV and AIDS has changed over time.

In the early years of the epidemic, AIDS was unknown and misunderstood, feared, untreatable and often fatal. Years down the line, a virus named HIV was discovered and linked to AIDS. That was the turning point in AIDS history.

HIV history then took a sharp turn with the development of highly-effective antiretroviral drugs which meant that, with access to treatment, people could lead healthy lives with HIV. 

Key historical moments in the history of HIV and the history of AIDS can be explored through the HIV and AIDS timeline page, such as the various advances in HIV treatment over the years; the impact and evolution of legislation; and HIV activism, among other epidemic defining events.

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