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 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.
We focus on 1993 today. During January, 116 new cases of AIDS were reported in the UK, bringing the cumulative total to 7,045. One in six of these new cases were acquired through heterosexual intercourse.
In March, the House of Representatives in the USA voted overwhelmingly to retain the ban on the entry into the country of HIV positive people.
In early April the Ministers of Health and Finance from 39 countries met in Riga, Latvia, and launched an initiative to contain the spread of HIV in Central and Eastern European countries.
On 7th April all French television networks broadcast ‘Tous contre le Sida’ (All against AIDS) simultaneously, a special 4-hour programme designed to heighten awareness about HIV/AIDS and to raise money. The estimated audience for the programme was 33 million. Some 32,000 cases of AIDS had been recorded in France, with 15 deaths each day, and an estimated 150,000 people were thought to be infected.
In Romania, the number of children infected with HIV had increased. There were an estimated 98,000 infected orphans.
China had reported one thousand cases of HIV infection, mostly in injecting drug users, but it was believed that this greatly understated the scale of the country’s HIV epidemic.
In South Africa, the National Health Department reported that the number of recorded HIV infections had grown by 60 percent in the previous two years and was expected to double in 1993. A survey of women attending health clinics indicated that nationally some 322,000 people were infected.
In mid-1993, it had been realised that HIV was also spreading rapidly in the Asia and Pacific regions, home to more than half the world’s population, where more than 700,000 people were already believed to be infected.
Official statistics for Brazil indicated that some 46,000 cases of AIDS had been recorded, but estimates put the actual number at anywhere between 450,000 and 3 million cases. Two thirds of the known cases were in Sao Paulo state where AIDS was the leading cause of death of women aged 20-35.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and more importantly, the need that safer sex campaigns were needed, in 1994 In the UK, the Department of Health vetoed an AIDS campaign promoting safer sex and condoms which was already developed at a cost of £2m on the grounds that it was too explicit!
The campaign was developed by the Health Education Authority (a government funded body) who later in the year were banned by the Department of Health from distributing the book, ‘Your Pocket Guide to Sex’. It was aimed at 16 to 25 year olds, giving advice on contraception, HIV and safe sex. The media reacted hysterically, saying that it was encouraging young people to have sex, and the government panicked. They pulped the book and threatened to stop all of their AIDS and sexual health education programmes.
However, this author has just researched Amazon and found it’s available to buy online, here’s the link if you’re interested!
The World Bank reviewed its HIV and AIDS activities in Africa, and decided that AIDS should not dominate its agenda on population, health and nutrition issues.
In the UK the radio DJ and comedian Kenny Everett announced that he was HIV positive, as did Holly Johnson, former lead singer with the group Frankie goes to Hollywood.
During the summer, the AIDS Prevention Agency in Brussels, in collaboration with the European Union, launched a campaign whose central image was ‘the flying condom’.
On World AIDS Day, 1st December, Benetton in collaboration with ACT UP Paris placed a giant condom (22 metres high and 3.5 wide) on the obelisk in Place de la Concorde in Central Paris in an effort to waken the world to the reality of the disease. A symbolic monument to HIV prevention, it appeared on the covers of newspapers worldwide.
At the end of 1993 the estimated number of AIDS cases worldwide was 2.5 million.
But hope was on the horizon, if only for some, a large European study on mother-to-child transmission showed that Caesarean section halved the rate of HIV transmission, something of hope to expectant mothers and demonstrated that progress was being made in the field of HIV research.
Research indicated that Thailand had reduced its rate of HIV transmission. This was largely due to action by the government, which had distributed condoms to brothels and insisted that they were used consistently.
In face of opposition to HIV prevention programs it seemed that hope was near, in Leicester LASS moves to new premises, our current home. The Michael Wood Centre and establishes a ‘company limited by Guarantee’, and gain charitable status.
Following the dissolution of Leicester Body Positive, a peer support development project is set up to develop opportunities for peer support, undertake and develop advocacy, and develop self-sustaining systems for people with HIV to influence the planning and provision of services in Leicestershire.