A History of HIV & AIDS – 1997

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIVevents 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.

For the first time since the AIDS epidemic became visible in 1981, the number of deaths from AIDS had dropped substantially in the developed world due to the advances of anti HIV medicine and combination therapy.  Within two years, death rates due to AIDS will have plummeted in the developed world. (See 1996 for why)

In New York City the decline was even more dramatic, with the number of people dying from AIDS falling by about 50 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of babies being born HIV positive had also declined dramatically.

In May, President Clinton set a target for the USA to find an AIDS vaccine within ten years.

In August UNAIDS estimated HIV/AIDS cases in India, Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh and Nepal at 3 million, 350,000, 20,000, and 15,000 respectively.

Worldwide, 1 in 100 adults in the 15-49 age group were thought to be infected with HIV, and only 1 in 10 infected people were aware of their infection. It was estimated that by the year 2000 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS would have grown to 40 million.

September 2, “The most recent estimate of the number of Americans infected (with HIV), 750,000, is only half the total that government officials used to cite over a decade ago, at a time when experts believed that as many as 1.5 million people carried the virus.” article in the Washington Post.

Based on the Bangui definition the WHO’s cumulative number of reported AIDS cases from 1980 through 1997 for all of Africa is 620,000. For comparison, the cumulative total of AIDS cases in the USA through 1997 is 641,087.

December 7, “French President Jacques Chirac addressed Africa’s top AIDS conference and called on the world’s richest nations to create an AIDS therapy support fund to help Africa. According to Chirac, Africa struggles to care for two-thirds of the world’s persons with AIDS without the benefit of expensive AIDS therapies. Chirac invited other countries, especially European nations, to create a fund that would help increase the number of AIDS studies and experiments. AIDS workers welcomed Chirac’s speech and said they hoped France would promote the idea to the Group of Eight summit of the world’s richest nations.”

At the end of the year, UNAIDS reported that worldwide the HIV epidemic was far worse than had previously been thought. More accurate estimates suggested that 30 million people were infected with HIV. The previous year’s estimate had been 22 million infected people with an estimated 3.2 million cases of new HIV infections.

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