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HIV in the 1980s

Not too many people knew about the HIV AIDS epidemic in the 1970s. It was mistaken for a kind of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma, wherein a person gets weaker by the day. No one could figure out the reason behind such weakness and loss of immunity until the 1980s, when the disease took the shape of pandemic and expanded its tentacles in all the four largest continents, USA, Europe, Africa and Asia. There was no other option, but to contemplate on HIV in the 1980s it, as it demanded so many lives around the globe.

HIV in the 1980s took a new turn. It gave new hopes to mankind against the disease, as it could figure out the basic nature, causes, and then gradually, partially effective vaccines for the disease were made. The 1980s is considered the “beginning” of AIDS, as it affected more and more people. It was also the nascent stage of AIDS awareness, as people could understand the main reason behind the growing number of incurable opportunistic diseases like pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Till then, no one had any clue regarding things like how the disease transmitted, who can have the disease, or how can a person acquire the disease. A number of landmark events followed

  • It was in 1981, a scientist first discovered that the disease could be acquired by injection of drugs from needles contaminated with HIV.
  • In June 1982, a case study of gay community showed that it could be transferred through infectious homosexual sexual contacts
  • In the same year, it was discovered that the origination of HIV in USA was from Haiti
  • It was clear by the end of the year, that this disease was there to stay for a longer period, and hence, it came to the notice of many more people.
  • A number of organizations were set up to work for the cause, like San Francisco AIDS Foundation, AIDS project Los Angeles, Terrence Higgins Trust etc.
  • In 1983, it was discovered that HIV could be transferred through heterosexual contacts and infected blood transfusion too
  • The researchers isolated a new kind of virus, the HIV in the 1980s, which was now identified as the main cause of AIDS
  • In 1883, WHO conducted the first AIDS survey in USA. An odd 2,803 cases were detected with HIV in the 1980s in USA. By the end of 1983, this statistics rose up to 3,064 and a death toll of 1292
  • A number of researches, campaigns, prompted USA food and drug administration centre to conduct blood tests for HIV on a mass scale.
  • Needle exchange programs and AIDS Charity Avers were started in 1986
  • Slowly more and more antiretroviral vaccines and therapies came up that could nip the bud of the virus at its initial stages.

The other advanced diagnostic methods like oral AIDS testing and rapid AIDS resting were only invented after 1990s, when AIDS as an epidemic became more familiar to the world.

HIV in the 1980s was not familiar as an epidemic in the other parts of the world. It slowly came to prominence in USA due to its advanced biotechnology. With the diagnosis of HIV in less than 3,000 patients, they took immediate efforts to fight it. However, in Africa, though the statistics of HIV patients were much more than that in USA (it reached almost a lakh in certain parts of Africa), it could not do much about it due to lack of good infrastructure. Africa could not even detect the existence of the disease and its causes, until it was aided by USA and WHO. However, by the time, it came to notice, it became quite difficult for Africa to handle HIV in the 1980s situation.

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