While the disease usually struck older patients and progressed slowly, these 41 cases had appeared in—and were quickly killing—men as young as Even then, there were few facts to be reported; journalists, like doctors and their patients, knew little about the disease. Lawrence Altman: When I came to work with the Times , I had time to practice medicine as well as write. I had been intending to write about AIDS in the spring, but had to postpone it because of covering the assassination attempts. But there were a sizeable group of cases in gay men that were being reported. The gay community was aware of something going on, and of the fact that there was a newspaper article about it.
Reflecting On The AIDS Epidemic This Gay Men’s Health Crisis Founders’ Day
The History of HIV
The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically CD4 cells or T cells. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, and breast milk. Historically, HIV has most often been spread through unprotected sex, the sharing of needles for drug use, and through birth. A person with AIDS is very vulnerable to cancer and to life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia. Scientists have traced the origin of HIV back to chimpanzees and simian immunodeficiency virus SIV , an HIV-like virus that attacks the immune system of monkeys and apes. Chimps, the scientist later discovered, hunt and eat two smaller species of monkeys—red-capped mangabeys and greater spot-nosed monkeys—that carry and infect the chimps with two strains of SIV.
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New Study Shows HIV Epidemic Started Spreading in New York in 1970
Today, HIV human immunodeficiency virus , remains one of the largest pandemics in the world. Before the s, researchers estimate that about , to , people were infected with HIV. The earliest case in North America was confirmed in , in Robert Rayford, a year-old teenager, who never left the Midwest and never received a blood transfusion. Originally people believed that only certain people were at risk for HIV. The number of cases continued to grow as the CDC refined their case definition, and scientists learned more about the virus.
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They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus called simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. How he became infected is not known.