Timeline of Aids

For selected AIDS cases prior to 1981, see also Timeline of early AIDS cases.

This is a timeline of AIDS, including AIDS cases before 1980.


  • Researchers estimate that sometime in the 1930s a form of simian immunodeficiency virus, SIV, jumped to humans in central Africa. The mutated virus became the first human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1.[1]
  • The first known case of HIV in a human occurs in a person who died in the Congo, later confirmed as having HIV infection from his preserved blood samples.[2][3] The authors of the study did not sequence a full virus from his samples, writing that "attempts to amplify HIV-1 fragments of >300 base pairs (bp) were unsuccessful ... However, after numerous attempts, four shorter sequences were obtained"; these represented small portions of two of the six genes of the complete HIV genome.[3]
  • June 28, in New York City, Ardouin Antonio, a 49-year-old Jamaican-American shipping clerk dies of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a disease closely associated with AIDS. Gordon Hennigar, who performed the postmortem examination of the man's body, found "the first reported instance of unassociated Pneumocystis carinii disease in an adult" to be so unusual that he preserved Ardouin's lungs for later study. The case was published in two medical journals at the time, and Hennigar has been quoted in numerous publications saying that he believes Ardouin probably had AIDS.[4][5]
  • Jerome Horwitz of Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine synthesize AZT under a grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). AZT was originally intended as an anticancer drug.
  • Genetic studies of the virus indicate that, in or about 1966, HIV first arrived in America, infecting one person in Haiti. At this time, many Haitians were working in Congo, providing the opportunity for infection.[6]
  • A 2003 analysis of HIV types found in the United States, compared to known mutation rates, suggests that the virus may have first arrived in the United States in this year.[1] The disease spread from the 1966 American strand, but remained unrecognized for another 12 years.[6]
  • A St. Louis teenager, identified as Robert Rayford, dies of an illness that baffles his doctors. Eighteen years later, molecular biologists at Tulane University in New Orleans test samples of his remains and find evidence of HIV.[7]
  • The first reports of wasting and other symptoms, later determined to be AIDS, are reported in residents of Africa.[8]
  • Norwegian sailor Arvid Noe dies; it is later determined that he contracted HIV/AIDS in Africa during the early 1960s.
  • Danish physician Grethe Rask dies of AIDS contracted in Africa.
  • A San Francisco prostitute gives birth to the first of three children who were later diagnosed with AIDS. The children's blood was tested after their deaths and revealed an HIV infection. The mother died of AIDS in May 1987. Test results show she was infected no later than 1977.[9]
  • A Portuguese man known as Senhor José (English: Mr. Joseph) dies; he will later be confirmed as the first known infection of HIV-2. It is believed that he was exposed to the disease in Guinea-Bissau in 1966.
  • An early case of AIDS in the United States was of a female baby born in New Jersey in 1973 or 1974. She was born to a sixteen-year-old girl, an identified drug-injector, who had previously had multiple male sexual partners. The baby died in 1979 at the age of five. Subsequent testing on her stored tissues confirmed that she had contracted HIV-1.[10]


  • April 24, San Francisco resident Ken Horne, the first AIDS case in the United States to be recognized at the time, is reported to the Center for Disease Control with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). He was also suffering from Cryptococcus.[11]
  • October 31, French-Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas pays his first known visit to New York City bathhouses. He would later be deemed "Patient Zero" for his apparent connection to many early cases of AIDS in the United States.[12]
  • December 23, Rick Wellikoff, a Brooklyn schoolteacher, dies of AIDS in New York City. He is the 4th US citizen to die from the disease.[13]
  • January 15, Nick Rock becomes the first known AIDS death in New York City.[12]
  • May 18, Lawrence Mass becomes the first journalist in the world to write about the epidemic, in the New York Native, a gay newspaper. A gay tipster overheard his physician mention that some gay men were being treated in intensive-care units in New York City for a strange pneumonia. "Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded" was the headline of Mass's article. Mass repeated a New York City public-health official's claims that there was no wave of disease sweeping through the gay community. At this point, however, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had been gathering information for about a month on the outbreak that Mass's source dismissed.
  • June 5, The CDC reports a cluster of Pneumocystis pneumonia in five gay men in Los Angeles.[14]
  • July 3, An article in the New York Times carries the headline: "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals". The article describes cases of Kaposi's sarcoma found in forty-one gay men in New York City and San Francisco.[15]
  • July 4, The CDC reports clusters of Kaposi's sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia among gay men in California and New York City.[16]
  • First known case in the United Kingdom.[17]
  • One of the first reported patients to have died of AIDS (presumptive diagnosis) in the US is reported in the journal Gastroentereology. Louis Weinstein, the treating physician, commented that "Although no clear-cut evidence of immuno-deficiency could be demonstrated in our patient, this could not be ruled out completely."
  • By the end of the year, 121 people are known to have died from the disease.[1]
  • June 18, "Exposure to some substance (rather than an infectious agent) may eventually lead to immunodeficiency among a subset of the homosexual male population that shares a particular style of life."[18] For example, Marmor et al. recently reported that exposure to amyl nitrite was associated with an increased risk of KS in New York City.[19] Exposure to inhalant sexual stimulants, central-nervous-system stimulants, and a variety of other "street" drugs was common among males belonging to the cluster of cases of KS and PCP in Los Angeles and Orange counties."[18]
  • July 9, The CDC reports a cluster of opportunistic infections (OI) and Kaposi's sarcoma among Haitians recently entering the United States.[2]
  • July 27, The term AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is proposed at a meeting in Washington of gay-community leaders, federal bureaucrats and the CDC to replace GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) as evidence showed it was not gay specific.[20]
  • Summer, First known case in Italy.[21]
  • September 24, The CDC defines a case of AIDS as a disease, at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease. Such diseases include KS, PCP, and serious OI. Diagnoses are considered to fit the case definition only if based on sufficiently reliable methods (generally histology or culture). Some patients who are considered AIDS cases on the basis of diseases only moderately predictive of cellular immunodeficiency may not actually be immunodeficient and may not be part of the current epidemic.[22]
  • December 10, a baby in California becomes ill in the first known case of contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion.[12]
  • First known case in Brazil.[23]
  • First known case in Canada.[24]
  • First known case in Australia, diagnosed at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.[25]
  • March 30, Gaëtan Dugas dies. He was a French Canadian flight attendant linked by the CDC directly or indirectly to 40 of the first 248 reported cases of AIDS in the U.S.
  • April 23, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announces at a press conference that an American scientist, Robert Gallo, has discovered the probable cause of AIDS: the retrovirus is subsequently named human immunodeficiency virus or HIV in 1986. She also declares that a vaccine will be available within two years.
  • Juni 25, Frech philosopher Michel Foucault died of AIDS in Paris.
  • September 6, First performance at Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco of The AIDS Show which runs for two years and is the subject of a 1986 documentary film of the same name.
  • December 17, Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS by a doctor performing a partial lung removal. White became infected with HIV from a blood product, known as Factor VIII, which was administered to him on a regular basis as part of his treatment for hemophilia. When the public school that he attended, Western Middle School in Russiaville, Indiana, learned of his disease in 1985 there was enormous pressure from parents and faculty to bar him from school premises. Due to the widespread fear of AIDS and lack of medical knowledge, principal Ron Colby and the schoolboard assented. His family filed a lawsuit, seeking to overturn the ban.
  • March 2, FDA approves the first AIDS antibody screening tests for use on all donated blood and plasma intended for transfusion and product manufacture.
  • October 2, Rock Hudson dies of AIDS. On July 25, 1985, he was the first American celebrity to publicly admit having AIDS; he had been diagnosed with it on June 5, 1984.
  • October 12, Ricky Wilson, guitarist of American rock band The B-52's dies from an AIDS related illness. The album Bouncing Off The Satellites, which he was working on when he died, is dedicated to him when it is released the next year. The band are devastated by their loss and do not tour or promote the album. Wilson is eventually replaced on guitar by his former writing partner Keith Strickland, the B52's former drummer.
  • October, a conference of public health officials including representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization meet in Bangui and define AIDS in Africa as "prolonged fevers for a month or more, weight loss of over 10% and prolonged diarrhea".
  • First officially reported cases in China.[29]
  • November 11, An Early Frost, the first film to cover the topic of HIV/AIDS is broadcast in the U.S. on prime time TV by NBC.
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is adopted as name of the retrovirus that was first proposed as the cause of AIDS by Luc Montagnier of France, who named it LAV (lymphadenopathy associated virus) and Robert Gallo of the United States, who named it HTLV-III (human T-lymphotropic virus type III)
  • January 14, "one million Americans have already been infected with the virus and that this number will jump to at least 2 million or 3 million within 5 to 10 years..." – NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, New York Times.[30]
  • February, President Reagan instructs his Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to prepare a report on AIDS. (Koop was excluded from the Executive Task Force on AIDS established in 1983 by his immediate superior, Assistant Secretary of Health Edward Brandt.) Without allowing Reagan's domestic policy advisers to review the report, Koop released the report at a press conference on October 22, 1986.[31][32]
  • Attorney Geoffrey Bowers is fired from the firm of Baker & McKenzie after AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma lesions appeared on his face. The firm maintained that he was fired purely for his performance.[33] He sued the firm, in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases to go to a public hearing. These events were the inspiration for the 1993 film Philadelphia.[34]
  • November 18, model Gia Carangi dies of AIDS-related illness.
  • First officially known cases in the Soviet Union[35] and India.[36]
  • AZT (zidovudine), the first antiretroviral drug, becomes available to treat HIV.[1]
  • On February 4, popular performing musician Liberace dies from AIDS related illness.
  • On May 28, playwright and performer Charles Ludlam dies of AIDS-related PCP pneumonia.
  • On July 11, Tom Waddell, founder of the Gay Games, dies of AIDS.
  • Randy Shilts investigative journalism book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic published chronicling the 1980–1985 discovery and spread of HIV/AIDS, government indifference, and political infighting in the United States to what was initially perceived as a gay disease. (Shilts himself would die of the disease on February 17, 1994.)
  • May, C. Everett Koop sends an eight-page, condensed version of his Surgeon General's Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome report named Understanding AIDS to all 107,000,000 households in the United States, becoming the first federal authority to provide explicit advice to US citizens on how to protect themselves from AIDS.[31][37]
  • November 11, The fact-based AIDS-themed film Go Toward The Light is broadcast on CBS.
  • December 1, The first World AIDS Day takes place.
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the rock musicians Miguel Abuelo (March 26) and Federico Moura (December 21), die from AIDS-related complications.
  • The television movie The Ryan White Story airs. It stars Judith Light as Jeanne, Lukas Haas as Ryan and Nikki Cox as sister Andrea. Ryan White had a small cameo appearance as Chad, a young patient with AIDS. Another AIDS-themed film, The Littlest Victims, debuted in 1989, biopicing James Oleske, the first U.S. physician to discover AIDS in newborns during AIDS' early years, when many thought it was only spread through homosexual sex.
  • NASCAR driver Tim Richmond dies from AIDS-related complications.


  • January 6, British actor Ian Charleson dies from AIDS at the age of 40 — the first show-business death in the United Kingdom openly attributed to complications from AIDS.
  • February 16, New York artist and social activist Keith Haring dies from AIDS-related illness.
  • April 8, Ryan White dies at the age of 18 from pneumonia caused by complications associated with AIDS.
  • Congress enacted The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act or Ryan White Care Act, the United States' largest federally funded health related program (excluding Medicaid and Medicare).
  • July 7, Brazilian singer Cazuza dies in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 32 from an AIDS-related illness.
  • November 7, NBA star Magic Johnson publicly announces that he is HIV-positive.
  • November 24, A little over 24 hours after issuing a statement confirming that he had been tested HIV positive and had AIDS, Freddie Mercury (singer of the British band Queen) dies at the age of 45. The official cause of death is bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.
  • The first combination drug therapies for HIV are introduced. Such "cocktails" are more effective than AZT alone and slow down the development of drug resistance.[1]
  • April 6, popular science fiction writer Isaac Asimov dies. Ten years later, his wife revealed that his death was due to AIDS-related complications. The writer was infected during a blood transfusion in 1983.[38]
  • June 18, Australian singer Peter Allen dies from complications due to AIDS.
  • September 12, American actor Anthony Perkins, known for his role as Norman Bates in the Psycho movies, dies from AIDS.
  • At the Royal Free Hospital in London, an out-patients' centre for HIV and AIDS is opened by Ian McKellen. It is named the Ian Charleson Day Centre after actor Ian Charleson.
  • Robert Reed, best known as Mike Brady on the sitcom The Brady Bunch dies of AIDS on May 12.
  • Elizabeth Glaser, wife of Starsky & Hutch's Paul Michael Glaser, dies from AIDS-related complications almost ten years after receiving an infected blood transfusion while giving birth. She unknowingly passes AIDS on to her daughter, Ariel, and son, Jake. Ariel died in 1988, Jake is living with HIV, while Paul Michael remains negative.
  • Saquinavir, a new type of protease inhibitor drug, becomes available to treat HIV. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) becomes possible.[1] Within two years, death rates due to AIDS will have plummeted in the developed world.
  • March 26, Rapper Eazy-E dies from AIDS-related pneumonia.
  • April 4, British DJ and entertainer Kenny Everett dies from AIDS.
  • Oakland resident Jeff Getty becomes the first person to receive a bone marrow transplant from a Baboon as an experimental procedure to treat his HIV infection. The graft did not take, but Getty experienced some reduction in symptoms, before dying of heart failure after cancer treatment, in 2006.[40]
  • Robert Gallo's discovery that some natural compounds known as chemokines can block HIV and halt the progression of AIDS is hailed by Science as one of that year's most important scientific breakthroughs.
  • September 2, The Washington Post carries an article stating, "The most recent estimate of the number of Americans infected (with HIV), 750,000, is only half the total that government officials used to cite over a decade ago, at a time when experts believed that as many as 1.5 million people carried the virus."
  • Based on the Bangui definition the WHO's cumulative number of reported AIDS cases from 1980 through 1997 for all of Africa is 620,000.[41] For comparison, the cumulative total of AIDS cases in the USA through 1997 is 641,087.
  • December 7, "French President Jacques Chirac addressed Africa's top AIDS conference on Sunday and called on the world's richest nations to create an AIDS therapy support fund to help Africa. According to Chirac, Africa struggles to care for two-thirds of the world's persons with AIDS without the benefit of expensive AIDS therapies. Chirac invited other countries, especially European nations, to create a fund that would help increase the number of AIDS studies and experiments. AIDS workers welcomed Chirac's speech and said they hoped France would promote the idea to the Group of Eight summit of the world's richest nations."[42]
  • December 10, International Human Rights Day, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is launched to campaign for greater access to HIV treatment for all South Africans, by raising public awareness and understanding about issues surrounding the availability, affordability and use of HIV treatments. TAC campaigns against the view that AIDS is a death sentence.
  • January 31, Studies suggest that a retrovirus, SIVcpz (simian immunodeficiency virus) from the common chimpanzee Pan troglodytes, may have passed to human populations in west equatorial Africa during the twentieth century and developed into various types of HIV.[43][44]
  • Edward Hooper releases a book called The River, which accuses doctors who developed and administered the oral polio vaccine in 1950s Africa of unintentionally starting the AIDS epidemic. The OPV AIDS hypothesis receives a great deal of publicity.[1] It was later refuted by studies demonstrating the origins of HIV as a mutated variant of a simian immunodeficiency virus that is lethal to humans.[45][46][47][48][49] Hooper's hypothesis should not be confused with the Heart of Darkness origin theory.


  • September 21, FDA licenses the first nucleic acid test (NAT) systems intended for screening of blood and plasma donations.
  • January 5, "Individual risk of acquiring HIV and experiencing rapid disease progression is not uniform within populations", says Anthony S. Fauci, the director of NIAID.[50] [3]
  • January 21, The CDC recommends anti-retroviral post-exposure prophylaxis for people exposed to HIV from rapes, accidents or occasional unsafe sex or drug use. This treatment should start no more than 72 hours after a person has been exposed to the virus, and the drugs should be used by patients for 28 days. This emergency drug treatment has been recommended since 1996 for health-care workers accidentally stuck with a needle, splashed in their eyes with blood, or exposed in some other way on the job.[51]
  • A highly resistant strain of HIV linked to rapid progression to AIDS is identified in New York City.[1]
  • November 9, SIV found in gorillas.[52]
  • The first case of someone being cured of HIV is reported. A San Francisco man, Timothy Ray Brown, suffering from leukemia and HIV, is cured of HIV through a bone marrow transplant in Germany. Other similar cases are being studied to confirm similar results.
  • Maraviroc, the first available CCR5 receptor antagonist, is approved by the FDA as an antiviral drug for the treatment of AIDS.


  • Confirmation is published that the first patient cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown, still has a negative HIV status, 4 years after treatment.[53]
  • Confirmation is published that a toddler has been "functionally cured" of HIV infection.[54]
  • A New York Times Article says that 12 people of 75 who began combination antiretroviral therapy soon after becoming infected may have been "functionally cured" of HIV according to a French study. A functionally cured person will not experience an increase of the virus in the bloodstream despite stopping antiretroviral therapy, and therefore not progress to AIDS. [55][56]

See also


Further reading

External links

  • Interactive zoomable timeline focusing on the last 30 years and the AIDS Memorial Quilt
  • Important milestones in the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic
  • from the Kaiser Family Foundation
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