A disease like none other, AIDS, took the world by storm and grabbed the attention of the medical community. It is rather frightening to realize that this disease is reaching pandemic infection levels throughout the world. This disease is life altering and can quickly become a death sentence. While we are currently making slow advances in the treatment of AIDS and HIV, a review of the historical timeline of this disease can provide us with a clearer picture of how it has impacted the world today.
In the year of 1958, the disease known as AIDS struck its first victim. A man by the name of David Carr began to become very ill, expressing mysterious symptoms such as pneumocystis carinii. The following year, he died. The disease was still unknown at that point, and tissue samples from Carr showed to be HIV positive when tested in 1990.
1959 also showed the first active HIV infection. A man in the Congo proved to be positive for two of six of the genes that make up the AIDS disease. His blood was preserved and later tested. Consequently, the first case of AIDS in America occurred in 1959. A Haitian man in New York City died of pneumocystis carinii, a common problem for those with AIDS. Dr. Gordon Hennigar examined the man's corpse and believed AIDS was responsible for the death.
In 1969, AIDS again showed up on American soil as a St. Louis teenager presented himself to the medical community for treatment of mysterious symptoms that left his doctors baffled. He subsequently died and tissue samples revealed in 1987 that he indeed had died from AIDS.
This fierce disease continued its rampage and in 1975 the symptoms of AIDS began to appear throughout Africa. In the next several years, the disease ran rampant around the world. Its widespread outbreak was proven when in 1976 a Norwegian sailor died of AIDS and it was believed that he contracted the virus in Africa in the 1960's.
In 1977 a man from Denmark and a woman from San Francisco were found to be infected with the disease, with both cases coming from the African continent. The woman in San Francisco had given birth to three children who also carried the disease.
HIV-2 was first diagnosed in 1978, occurring in a Portuguese man who claimed he more than likely became infected in Guinea-Bissau.
In 1980, a man named Gaetan Dugas traveled to the bathhouses of New York and likely introduced the disease to America in a major way. He became known as "Patient Zero" due to the wide spread of the infection that he caused.
In 1984, the HIV virus as we know it became officially recognized by the United States. Dr. Robert Gallo was credited with discovering the virus as well as stating his belief that the virus was what was actually causing AIDS. Until this point, there were suspicions that various activities common in the homosexual community were responsible for the contraction of the disease, such as the use of amyl nitrate 'poppers'.
Dr. Gallo continued to push the advances of AIDS research in the medical community and in 1996 he ultimately discovered that a compound known as chemokines can be helpful in slowing the progression of the disease. This singular advance proved extremely beneficial to AIDS patients everywhere.
These are just a few of the landmark moments in our understanding of AIDS. As our knowledge continues to grow, we gain more and more hope that the disease is something that we will eventually be able to conquer.
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