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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1990

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.

One of the primary routes of HIV transmission is through direct contact between your blood and HIV infected blood. Although the majority of HIV infections via blood occur through injecting drug use, medical settings still account for a significant number of new HIV infections.  Across the world numerous cases of HIV transmission through blood transfusions, medical injections, medical waste and occupational exposure, are both reported and unreported.

There are an estimated 250,000 new infections per year as a result of the reuse of needles and syringes,1 and in Africa 250 to 500 people are newly infected with HIV each day as a result of unsafe blood transfusions.2 3 Testing of blood is essential but remains absent in many low and middle-income countries.

In 1990, at the beginning of the year, it was reported that a large number of children in Romanian hospitals and orphanages had become infected with HIV as a result of multiple blood transfusions and the reuse of needles.

In China, 146 people in Yunnan Province near the Burmese border were found to be infected with HIV due to sharing needles.

In June, a TV programme called ‘The AIDS Catch’ was screened in the UK, questioning whether HIV caused AIDS and whether AIDS was infectious. It was felt the programme caused significant distress among people with HIV and undermined the efforts carried out in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Prime Minister John Major announced that the Government would pay £42 million compensation to haemophiliacs infected with HIV and their dependants.

British actor Ian Charleson was a Scottish stage and film actor best known internationally for his starring role as Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell, in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire. He is also well known for his portrayal of Rev. Charlie Andrews in the 1982 Oscar-winning film Gandhi.

Charleson was a noted actor on the British stage as well, with critically acclaimed leads in Guys and DollsCat on a Hot Tin RoofFool for Love, and Hamlet, among many others. Over the course of his life Charleson performed numerous major Shakespearean roles,  dies on January 6, 1990 from AIDS at the age of 40.  His death marked the first showbusiness death in the United Kingdom openly attributed to complications from AIDS.

Later, in 1991, the annual Ian Charleson Awards are established in his honour in to reward the best classical stage performances in Britain by actors aged under 30.

Teenager Ryan White, who in 1987 had surgery to remove two inches off his left lung and believed this was the moment of his infection, dies on April 8, 1990 at the age of 18 from pneumonia caused by AIDS complications.

Congress enacted The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act or Ryan White Care Act, the United States’ largest federally funded health related program (excluding Medicaid and Medicare).

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A History of HIV & AIDS

Welcome to our new Twitter followers and Blog subscribers! – Thank you for following us, many of you have arrived from our recent news, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu honours LASS in his role as International Patron of LASS and we hope you enjoy this site.

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with...

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with HIV. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are here to to respond to the challenges of HIV, and over the next next few weeks, as we prepare to enter our 25th year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past 25 years as HIV and AIDS have 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.

On 5 June 1981, the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) published a report describing cases of a rare form of pneumonia among five gay men in Los Angeles. Soon after, there are a number of reports of a rare skin cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, increase among gay men living in California and New York.

In 1982, the term A.I.D.S. (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is used for the first time. Prior to this, it was called G.R.I.D. (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and was associated with homosexuality because it was first documented among gay men in New York and California.  It was only in 1983 we began to get evidence that AIDS is caused by a virus (sic), this emerges from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The US reports that more than 1,200 Americans have been affected by AIDS and more than one-third of them have died.

The number of cases doubles each six months, it is officially an epidemic and the deadliest since swine fever ravaged the US at the end of the first world war.
In Geneva, the World Health Organisation convenes the first meeting to discuss the international implications of AIDS, which has so far been found in dozens of countries, and has now been found in both women and men.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus was isolated by scientists in the US and France (though it was not formally named as HIV until 1986). Later, a public controversy erupts over who first discovered HIV, and eventually over who would get the Nobel Prize for it.

Along with the discovery of the virus, the first diagnostic blood test, known as the Elisa test, is developed to screen for HIV infection.

This photo of Ryan White was taken by me (Wild...

This photo of Ryan White was taken in the spring of 1989 at a fund raising event in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ryan White, a haemophiliac teenager who contracted HIV from contaminated blood products in 1985 is barred from school.  He soon becomes one of the most bravest, and well-known advocates for AIDS research and awareness in America.

1985 also marks the year that Hollywood actor Rock Hudson dies of an AIDS related illness. He had recently publicly disclosed his AIDS diagnosis.

The first international Aids conference is held in Atlanta, Georgia and 1986 marks the discovery of a second type of HIV, eventually named HIV-2, it’s discovered by US and French research teams. Jon Parker, a former drug user, starts the first needle-exchange programme in the US to combat HIV among intravenous drug users and The World Health Organisation launches the Global Programme on Aids. The programme will later end and be replaced by UNAids, the UN Aids agency.

Stay tuned over the next few days for more information as we reveal more, of the history of HIV and AIDS.

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Elton John to write book about Aids

Love Is the Cure, due in July, will include reminiscences about Freddie Mercury and teenage activist Ryan White

Elton John is writing his first book, a collection of memories and meditations on the fight against Aids. Love Is the Cure: Ending the Global Aids Epidemic, due in July, will be accompanied by an audiobook read by the singer.

“[Aids] is a disease (sic) that must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine,” John wrote, “but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion.” The singer said he wants to combat the stigma surrounding the disease, telling personal stories of friends he has lost – and those he has kept. These will include reflections on Freddie Mercury, the Queen frontman, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1991, and the teenage activist Ryan White.

“Why are we not doing more?” John asked. “This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer – and to help change – by writing this book.” Hodder & Stoughton will publish the work in the UK, and Little, Brown in the US, with proceeds going to the Elton John Aids Foundation. Over the last 20 years, John’s organisation has raised more than £145m for Aids-related initiatives.

Meanwhile, John is planning a “surreal” biopic musical for which he hopes to enlist Justin Timberlake. According to John’s lawyer, the 64-year-old has no plans for a conventional written memoir.

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The Ryan White Story – Gone Too Soon

Over the past few weeks you’ve been learning about the prejudice and discrimination faced by Ryan White because of his HIV infection.  This series concludes with a tribute to the life of Ryan White from the view point of one of his friends, Michael Jackson, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday today if he was still with us.

The 1980’s, from a HIV/AIDS viewpoint was a time when many people panicked and about a new fatal and contagious disease, people were highly on guard with those who contracted it.  Most people were afraid of individuals who had HIV and if known to them, wouldn’t sit near them, talk to them and if it were possible refuse to breathe the same air!  It was exactly this time that Michael Jackson fearlessly invited Ryan to his home, and publicly embraced him inviting others not to be fearful of people living with HIV.

Ryan Whites mother, Jeanne White-Ginder has fond memories of Michael’s friendship with her son and you can read more about Ryan and Michael’s friendship here.

Two years after Ryan died, Michael Jackson released “Gone Too Soon” on World AIDS Day, 1993 dedicating it to Ryan White.  The video shows footage of Michael and Ryan together, as well as scenes from Ryan’s funeral.  Michael also performed the song at Bill Clinton’s inaugural celebration to serve as a promotional platform for HIV & AIDS funding adding:

I would like to take a moment from this very public ceremony to speak of something very personal. It concerns a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us. His name is Ryan White. He was a hemophiliac who was diagnosed with the AIDS virus [sic] when he was eleven. He died shortly after turning eighteen, the very time most young people are beginning to explore life’s wonderful possibilities. My friend Ryan was a very bright, very brave, and very normal young man who never wanted to be a symbol or a spokesperson for a deadly disease. Over the years, I’ve shared many silly, happy, and painful moments with Ryan and I was with him at the end of his brief but eventful journey. Ryan is gone and just as anyone who has lost a loved one to AIDS, I miss him deeply and constantly. He is gone, but I want his life to have meaning beyond his passing. It is my hope, President-elect Clinton, that you and your administration commit the resources needed to eliminate this awful disease that took my friend, and ended so many promising lives before their time.

“Gone Too Soon” later received more exposure, following the deaths of both Diana, Princess of Wales and Michael Jackson himself.

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent activists is available here.

The Ryan White Story (Continued)

During the course of his short young life Ryan White changed the face of HIV and AIDS as we knew it, forever. He is, to this day, an inspiration and hero for many people living with HIV/AIDS. This is his story, part 10 of 10.

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The Ryan White Story (Continued)

During the course of his short young life Ryan White changed the face of HIV and AIDS as we knew it, forever. He is, to this day, an inspiration and hero for many people living with HIV/AIDS. This is his story, part 9 of 10.

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The Ryan White Story (Continued)

During the course of his short young life Ryan White changed the face of HIV and AIDS as we knew it, forever. He is, to this day, an inspiration and hero for many people living with HIV/AIDS. This is his story, part 8 of 10.

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