The History of HIV

It’s no secret that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) became one of the largest epidemics in the 1980s. This virus often leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, HIV has been discovered to have started in the early 1900s. So, where did HIV and AIDs come from, and how far have researchers come with treatments since then?


The Start of HIV


Researchers have found that the earliest case of HIV was found in a man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is believed that this virus spread from chimpanzees to humans in the early 1900s. This could have occurred while hunting, the hunters came in contact with the animal blood and were exposed to the virus.


Before HIV became well known and widely spread in the 1980s, the earliest case of the virus in the United States was confirmed in 1968 in a young man who never received a blood transfusion or traveled outside of the United States, which led researchers to believe that this virus was present long before the 1960s. Researchers have also estimated that approximately 300,000 people were infected with this virus.


Scientists first discovered AIDS, which was appeared similar to many other immunodeficiency diseases. Approximately one year after discovering AIDS, scientists discovered HIV, which was what caused AIDS.


HIV in the 1980s


In 1981, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) were found in several gay men in Los Angeles. This was also when the first cases of PCP were reported in several people who had injected drugs.


In 1982, more cases among gay men caused researchers to believe that the virus was a gay-related immune deficiency (GRID). During this year, haemophiliacs also reported this disease. Haemophiliacs are those who received a contaminated blood transfer. Also in 1982, the CDC started using the term AIDS.


During this time it was believed that the people at risk for AIDS were hemophiliacs, homosexual men, heroin users and those with a Haitian origin. This was because there were many cases reported in Haiti.


After much research, in the mid-1980s it was discovered that females could also get HIV through sexual contact. At this time there were over 3,000 cases of AIDS in the US. Among the 3,000 cases, nearly 1,300 people died.


Over time the number of AIDS cases began to grow and by 1995, AIDS was a leading cause of death in men and women ages 25 to 44 years with over 50,000 Americans dying.


In 2015, 36.7 million people were believed to be living with HIV around the world. However, 40 percent of those people are not aware that they have the virus. In the United States 18,303 people were diagnosed with AIDS. Since the 1980s, over 1.2 million people have been diagnosed in the United States.


Treatments and Prevention of HIV and AIDS


One of the first treatments for this virus was a drug called Azidothymidine developed in 1987. By 1997, HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) helped with a 47 percent decline in death rates. This is the process of using at least three drugs to suppress the replication of HIV.


By 2010, there were about 20 treatment options and researchers continue to study the best treatment options. It is important to work with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you. Since there are many different treatment options, some may work better on certain people, while other options work better on others. However, it is important to note that even if you are receiving treatment suppress the replication of the virus, it will not prevent the spread of the virus.


HIV is spread through sexual contact and blood. It can be spread through shared needles and unprotected sex. In order to prevent coming into contact with the virus, you should be aware if your sexual partner has the virus, you should also have protected sex and ensure the male wears a condom.


In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new rapid test kit. This HIV test enabled doctors to provide patients with their results within 20 minutes. The test has 99.6 percent accuracy.


Facts about HIV and AIDS


Since 2005, research has shown that cases of AIDS have dropped about 19 percent. This could be due to a combination of awareness, treatments, and testing. However, approximately 13 percent of those infected with HIV do not know that they have the virus. This can lead to a wider spread of the incurable disease. This is why it is important to get tested regularly if you are sexually active.


If you are aware that your partner has the virus, you should protect yourself and get tested often. However, other ways to reduce the risk of the virus is by limiting the number of sexual partners you are with. You should also not use injection drugs and if you do, be sure they are from a sterile needle.


HIV and AIDS are very serious sexually transmitted diseases. If you have any questions about testing, treatments or the spread of the disease, it is important that you speak with your doctor.



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