According to AbbreviationFinder, the era of AIDS officially began on 5 of June of 1981, when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention) of the United States convened a press conference where he described five cases of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in Los angels. The following month, several cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma (a type of skin cancer) were found. The first findings of these cases were made by Dr. Michael Gottlieb of San Francisco (California).
Although doctors knew both Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposi’s sarcoma, the joint appearance of both in several patients caught their attention. Most of these patients were sexually active gay men, many of whom also suffered from other chronic diseases that were later identified as opportunistic infections. Blood tests on these patients showed that they lacked the right number of a type of blood cell called CD4 + T cells. Most of these patients died within a few months.
Due to the appearance of pinkish spots on the body of the infected person, the press began to call AIDS the “pink plague”, causing confusion, attributing it to homosexuals, although it was soon noted that Haitian immigrants also suffered from it in the United States, injecting drug users, blood transfusion recipients, and heterosexual women. In 1982, the new disease was officially named acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Until 1984, different theories were held about the possible cause of AIDS. The most supportive theory was that AIDS was basically an epidemiological disease. In 1983, a group of nine gay men with AIDS from Los Angeles, who had had sexual partners in common, including another man in New York who had sex with three of them, served as the basis for establishing a pattern of infection typical of the infectious diseases.
Other theories suggest that AIDS arose from excessive drug use and high sexual activity with different partners. It was also suggested that the inoculation of semen into the rectum during anal sex, combined with the use of nitrite inhalants called poppers, produced suppression of the immune system. Few specialists took these theories seriously, although some people still promote them and deny that AIDS is the result of HIV infection.
The most widely recognized theory today holds that HIV comes from a virus called “simian immunodeficiency virus” (SIV), which is identical to HIV and causes AIDS-like symptoms in other primates.
In 1984, two French scientists, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier from the Pasteur Institute, isolated the AIDS virus and purified it. The Dr. Robert Gallo, American, asked the French laboratory samples, and ahead of the French released the news that he had discovered the virus and had made the first screening and early antibodies to fight disease.
After various legal controversies, it was decided to share patents, but the discovery was attributed to the two original researchers who isolated the virus, and only the two of them were awarded the joint Nobel Prize, along with another researcher in 2008, recognizing them as true discoverers of the virus, accepting that Robert Gallo took advantage of the material of other researchers to make all his observations. In 1986 the virus was named HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
The discovery of the virus allowed the development of an antibody, which began to be used to identify those infected within risk groups. It also allowed to start research on possible treatments and a vaccine.
In those days, AIDS victims were isolated by the community, friends and even family. Children with AIDS were not accepted by schools due to protests from the parents of other children; This was the case of the young American Ryan White. People feared approaching those infected as they thought that HIV could be spread by casual contact such as shaking hands, hugging, kissing or sharing utensils with an infected person.
At first, the homosexual community was blamed for the emergence and subsequent spread of AIDS in the West. Some religious groups even went so far as to say that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuals (this belief is still popular among certain minorities of Christian and Muslim believers). Others point out that the “depraved” lifestyle of homosexuals was responsible for the disease.
Although AIDS initially spread more rapidly through homosexual communities, and the majority of those with the disease in the West were homosexual, this was in part due to the fact that the use of the disease was not common in those days. of the condom among homosexuals, considering that this was only a contraceptive method. On the other hand, its spread in Africa was mainly heterosexual.
AIDS was able to spread rapidly by focusing attention only on homosexuals, this contributed to the disease spreading uncontrollably among heterosexuals, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean and later in Asia.
Thanks to the availability of antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV can lead a normal life, that of a chronic disease, without the opportunistic infections characteristic of untreated AIDS. Antiretrovirals are available mostly in developed countries. Its availability in developing countries is growing, especially in Latin America; But in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, many people still do not have access to these drugs, thus developing opportunistic infections and dying a few years after seroconversion.