A History of HIV & AIDS – 1988

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe and support touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

The first World AIDS Day was observed on 1 December 1988 after being first conceived in August the previous year by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization.

Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be 1 December 1988.

Bunn, a broadcast journalist recommended the date of 1 December believing it would maximize coverage by western news media.  Since 1988 was an election year in the U.S., Bunn suggested that media outlets would be weary of their post-election coverage and eager to find a fresh story to cover.  Bunn and Netter determined that 1 December was long enough after the election and soon enough before the Christmas holidays that it was, in effect, a dead spot in the news calendar and thus perfect timing for World AIDS Day so as to maximise awareness and to battle stigma.

The aim, simply put is to exploit the best weapon governments have against the ever-growing AIDS epidemic: “information”.

One of the first high profile heterosexual victims of the virus was Arthur Ashe, an American tennis player.  He was diagnosed as HIV positive on 31 August 1988, having contracted the virus from blood transfusions during heart surgery earlier in the 1980s.  Further tests within 24 hours of the initial diagnosis revealed that Ashe had AIDS, but he did not tell the public about his diagnosis until April 1992.

May, C. Everett Koop sends an eight-page, condensed version of his Surgeon General’s Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome report named Understanding AIDS to all 107,000,000 households in the United States, becoming the first federal authority to provide explicit advice to Americans on how to protect themselves from AIDS.

The first intake of volunteers are trained by LASS, as we begin to offer services to people who have HIV and AIDS and their families.  The David Manley fund – named after the first person known to have died from AIDS is implemented.  The fund provides financial support for people affected by HIV/AIDS in the county.  It was launched on 1st December 1988 and is still in operation today.  (Click here to support the David Manley fund)

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One response to “A History of HIV & AIDS – 1988

  1. Pingback: A History of HIV & AIDS – 1990 | LASS