Born in 1981, AIDS is now a 20-year-old epidemic.
The first appearance of the disease was in 1959, when a man from the Congo was identified with having a related disease.
In 1981, an outbreak of a rare cancer appeared among gay male patients, which is named GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). A year later the disease is renamed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), and is seen in gay men, women, heterosexual males, drug users, hemophiliacs, blood transfusion recipients and babies.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS, and only blood and sexual fluids can transmit the virus. There are four stages of the HIV infection. The AIDS virus is not present until the third stage. The number one prevention is to practice safe sex.
When President Ronald Reagan’s first mentioned the AIDS epidemic in 1987, over 307,000 AIDS cases had been reported. In 1991, Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson was infected with HIV and retired from basketball to promote AIDS awareness. Oscar winner Tom Hanks won best actor for his portrayal of a gay man with AIDS in Philadelphia in 1994.
The AIDS epidemic has continued to spread. There are now an estimated 30 million people infected with HIV or AIDS and 16,000 new infections occurring daily.
In 1997, researchers found that HIV controls a memory cell that hinders the ability to fight viruses.
The source of HIV was traced to a type of chimpanzee in west central Africa by researchers in 1999.
To date, 22 million people have died from AIDS and 36 million have been infected with the disease.
It has long been a misconception that only white, gay men and drug users can be the contractors of AIDS, but studies by the CNN Medical Unit as of May 31, 2001, show that black gay men are fives times as likely as whites to be infected with HIV.
There are between 800,000 and 900,000 people in the United States living with HIV, and a third of them don’t even know they are infected. Almost 450,000 people nationwide have died of AIDS, and each year an estimated 40,000 more are infected.
Temple’s Main Campus Program Board will be holding an AIDS Awareness lecture on Oct. 24. Also, many Temple organizations are joining together to participate in the AIDS walk on Oct. 21. You can show your awareness by wearing a red ribbon throughout October.