AIDS at 30

Thirty years ago today, a rare form of pneu­mo­nia was seen in five young gay Los Angeles men, puzz­ling doc­tors be­cause the par­tic­u­lar strain had only been seen in people with severely de­pressed im­mune sys­tems. A month later, 54 oth­ers were dia­gnosed with a rare skin can­cer that had been al­most un­known in young men. By the fol­low­ing sum­mer, the mys­ter­i­ous dis­ease un­der­ly­ing these re­ports had a name: ac­quired im­mune de­fi­ciency syn­drome, or AIDS.

AIDS has killed nearly 30 mil­lion people world­wide, in­clud­ing an es­tim­ated 615,000 in the United States. Today, an­oth­er 34 mil­lion people — in­clud­ing nearly 1.2 mil­lion in the U.S.— are liv­ing with the vir­us that causes the dis­ease, hu­man im­mun­ode­fi­ciency vir­us, or HIV. But some pro­gress has been made in treat­ing the dis­ease, and cock­tails of drugs have trans­formed AIDS from a death sen­tence in­to a chron­ic, man­age­able dis­ease.

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Published: June 3, 2011
Sources: Times research, Kaiser Family Foundation
Credits: Clare Abreu, Maloy Moore, TimelineSetter

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