Independent On-line, 26 November 2002, Development and spread of HIV and Aids
Following are some of the key events in the development of the epidemic:
1981 - Outbreaks of two rare illnesses are reported among young homosexual men in the
1981-1983 - Scientists and researchers start to recognise the emergence of a new disease that destroys the body's immune system, preventing sufferers from fighting simple infections. The illness is also found to affect intravenous drug users and blood transfusion recipients.
1984 - The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is identified as the cause of the disease.
- Scientific papers suggesting that Aids is spread through blood are published in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.
1985 - Scientists develop diagnostic test for the virus.
1987 - Zidovudine (AZT), the first treatment for HIV, is launched.
1988 - December 1st is designated World Aids Day.
1991 - Videx (ddl), like AZT a member of a class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors (RTIs), is launched.
1994-1995 - Zerit (d4T) and Epivir (3TC), other RTIs, are launched, increasing the choice of treatments.
1996 - Triple drug cocktails including protease inhibitors that block the replication of HIV in the body are revealed at the 11th World Aids Conference in
1998 - Scientists image the crystalline structure of the gp120 protein the HIV virus uses to break into the human immune system cells it attacks.
1999 - A chimpanzee named Marilyn helps confirm that the Aids virus first passed into people from chimps; genetic tests show HIV is closely related to a simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV that infects chimps but does not make them sick.
2000 - Five top drug companies agree to slash the price of HIV and AIDS treatments for developing countries, in a breakthrough UN deal.
2002 - The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria is set up to fund the fight against the three top infectious diseases.
- In a report showing the epidemic is still in its early stages, the United Nations says that Aids will kill 70 million people over the next 20 years, mostly in