• Milton W. TaylorEmail author


The first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981 with the occurrence of Pneumocystis carinii in a cohort of young homosexual men in the U.S. This “new” disease affected the immune system, destroying CD4 T-cells. The disease spread rapidly, initially among “gay” men, but later into the heterosexual community. At the same time, a “novel” cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), appeared in infected individuals; it was later found to be associated with a herpes virus. By 1982 it was obvious that AIDS was associated with an infectious agent, which was sexually transmitted or spread by intravenous drug use. The blood supply was contaminated since hemophiliacs became infected with the virus. Within 3 years of the initial outbreak, a virus was isolated. Initially called HTLV-3 by Robert Gallo (NIH), it was shown to be the same virus as LAV that was isolated by Montagnier at the Pasteur Institute a few months earlier. Because of a controversy as to who had isolated the virus first, an international committee decided to name the virus human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Within a short time, HIV had spread all over the world, and by 1995 the number of infected people reached 30–40 million, at the peak of the epidemic. The virus actually crossed into the human population in the 1950s or earlier, and had crossed species from a chimpanzee. The disease began in Central Africa and the Congo and spread via Haiti to the U.S. and other countries. Today there is a regimen of drugs that controls the progression of the disease, but does not cure the patient, and attempts to develop a vaccine have been unsuccessful. There have been many scandals related to tainted blood, discrimination against HIV-positive individuals, and dubious government policies.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Male Circumcision Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prevalence 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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