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What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

It is a virus that attacks the human immune system. Someone infected with the virus can live with HIV or be
HIV positive for many years without becoming ill or showing symptoms. During this time however, HIV
remains in the body damaging the immune system and the person remains infectious; able to spread the
virus to others if a few simple precautions are not followed.
Over time, HIV can damage the immune system to such a degree that infections may begin to occur as a
result of a weakened immune system. Eventually, one may acquire various illnesses due to the damage done
by the virus.
When this happens this is called AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. That is, a collection of

A brief history of HIV

In June 1981, scientists in the United States reported the first clinical evidence of a disease that would
become known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Twenty-seven years later, the AIDS
epidemic has spread to every corner of the world. Over 22 million people have lost their lives to the disease
and over 39 million people are today living with HIV.
(1 slide per year)



Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and kaposis sarcoma is

identified in gay men in Los Angeles and New York.
Later in the year, PCP is also identified in injecting drug

The collection of symptoms or syndrome is named Gay Related

Immune Deficiency (GRID) by scientists. It becomes apparent
that GRID is caused by an infectious agent, possibly a virus
passed through blood.
Haitian refugees and haemophiliacs are identified with
the virus.
The syndrome is re-named Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndrome (AIDS) as it is clear that it does not just affect gay
men. Three modes of transmission are identified: blood
transfusion, mother-to-child and sexual intercourse.


Doctors at the Institute Pasteur in France believe they

have isolated the virus which causes AIDS. The virus is named
lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV).
In Europe there appears to be two streams of epidemic,
one linked to Africa and the other to gay men who have visited
the USA.
The first Australian death from AIDS is recorded in

A report incorrectly, suggests the possibility of casual

household transmission. This promotes fear, hostility and
discrimination in many countries.
The Victorian AIDS Action Committee, which later
becomes the Victorian AIDS Council, is formed by the Melbourne
gay community.
AIDS has been reported in 33 countries. In Africa, a
heterosexual AIDS epidemic is establishing itself.
1,283 Americans are reported to have died of AIDS.

Dr. Robert Gallo, National Cancer Institute in America,

announces that he has isolated the retrovirus which causes AIDS
and that it has been named HTLV-III. Blood testing is introduced
to detect antibodies to the virus.


Sydney man Bobby Goldsmith dies of AIDS. His friends

form the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation to address the needs, and
promote the independence and participation of people living
with HIV/AIDS in NSW.
French-Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas dies of
AIDS. Dugas was dubbed patient zero' by the US Centres for
Disease Control after the American Journal of Medicine linked all
of New York City's early HIV infections to him.
In Queensland, it is announced that four babies have died
as a result of contracting HIV through infected blood
Some experts predict a vaccine and cure for AIDS will be
available before the end of the decade.
7,000 Americans have died of AIDS.

AIDS has been reported in 51 countries.

The AIDS Council of New South Wales and AIDS Action
Council of the ACT are formed.
Film star Rock Hudson dies of AIDS.


The first international conference on AIDS is held in

Atlanta, USA.
Australia becomes one of the first countries in the world
to screen all blood donors by questionnaire and antibody
A meeting of Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP)
results in the establishment of the Western Australian AIDS

It is confirmed that French LAV and American HTLV-III are

the same virus. LAV and HTLV-III are re-named Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
At the second International AIDS Conference in Paris
there is preliminary reports on the use of the drug

Azidothymidine (AZT) for the treatment of AIDS.

The World Health Organisation launches its global AIDS
strategy, recommending that sterile injecting equipment be
made available to drug users as a means of trying to prevent the
spread of AIDS.
The Western Australian AIDS Council receives its first
government funding.
The first Australian needle and syringe program begins in
Sydney as a trial project. The following year needle and syringe
programs become NSW Government policy. Other States and
Territories follow soon after.



Princess Diana opens the first specialist AIDS hospital

ward in the UK. Media reports that she does not wear gloves
when shaking hands with people with AIDS prompts a change in
attitudes to people living with HIV/AIDS.
President Kaunda of Zambia announces that his son has
died of AIDS.
In San Francisco, Cleve Jones makes the first panel of the
AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman.
62,000 cases of AIDS are officially reported by the World
Health Organisation.
The AIDS Trust of Australia is launched.

A world summit of Health Ministers is held in London with

representatives from 148 countries. The ensuing London
Declaration emphasises education, free exchange of information
and the need to protect human rights and dignity. World AIDS
Day - 1 December - is initiated.
Condoman makes his first appearance.
The Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt is founded and
displayed on World AIDS Day.



A new antiretroviral drug, dideoxyinosine (ddI) is

introduced in America.
Homosexuality is decriminalised in WA, the age of
consent being 21. People Living with HIV/AIDS (Western
Australia) opens the first drop-in-centre in Australia.

The sixth International Conference on AIDS is held in San

The media reports that Romanian children are being
infected through multiple blood transfusions.
In Australia, the National People Living with AIDS
Coalition is formed. The Coalition later becomes the National
Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, with member

organisations in each state.

The National Centre in HIV Social Research is established
in Australia.
307,000 AIDS cases are officially reported to the World
Health Organisation. However, true figures are estimated to be
one million people living with AIDS, and a further 9 million living
with HIV.


Basketball star Magic' Johnson announces that he is HIV

positive. Freddy Mercury, lead singer of Queen dies from AIDS.
The red ribbon is launched as the international symbol of
AIDS awareness, and is seen on television at the Tony Awards in
New York.
The Western Australian AIDS Council is awarded Best
Community Health Organisation' by the Public Health

Tennis player Arthur Ashe, the first African-American man

to win the US Open and Wimbledon, announces that he is HIV

Combination therapy is introduced, using two 2 drugs,

AZT and ddC.
The ACT legislates to make it unlawful to discriminate on
the grounds of HIV infection.
The first National Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Conference is held
in the Northern Territory.

Dancer Rudolph Nureyev and Arthur Ashe die of AIDS.



A European trial finds that AZT is not a useful therapy for

HIV positive people who have not yet developed symptoms.
The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act makes
discrimination on the grounds of HIV/AIDS illegal in Australia.
691 Australians die of AIDS.

Filmmaker Derek Jarman dies of AIDS. Actor Tom Hanks

wins an Oscar for portraying a gay man with HIV in the movie
A study shows that AZT reduces the risk of transmission
of HIV from infected mothers to their babies.
AIDS becomes the leading cause of death amongst
Americans aged 24 - 44. Approximately 400,000 Americans have
developed AIDS and over 250,000 have died.


Several newly manufactured drugs start to be used in

combination therapy.

The World Health Organisation Global Programmme on

AIDS is closed after criticism that it has done little at grass roots
level and concentrated on medical and vaccine issues.
An HIV outbreak in Eastern Europe is detected among
injecting drug users.


The World Health Organisation Global Programme on AIDS

is replaced by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
(UNAIDS), a combination of the World Health Organisation, the
UNICEF Children's Fund, the United Nations Population Fund, the
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the United
Nations Development Program and the World Bank.
Viral load testing is introduced.
The International AIDS Conference in Vancouver reports
on the success of triple combination therapy. Highly active
antiretroviral therapy is presented for the first time.
A slowing of the infection rate is reported in some
countries due to safe sex and safe injecting practices.
Worldwide infection rates continue to grow rapidly.


Side effects to the new drug regimes become apparent

and drug resistance is an increasing concern.
UNAIDS reports that globally, 30 million people may be
living with the HIV and that 16,000 new infections are occurring
every day.
Brazil becomes the first developing country to provide
antiretroviral therapy through its public health system.

Jonathon Mann, the first Director of UNAIDS and his wife,

an AIDS researcher, die in a plane crash.

Several developed countries report closing AIDS units and

wards owing to the falling death rate.
The first human trials of an AIDS vaccine start with 5,000
volunteers across America.
The first short-course regimen to prevent mother-tochild transmission is announced.


Researchers at the University of Alabama report that

they have traced the virus to a group of chimpanzees once
common in West Central Africa. The World Health Annual Report
states that AIDS has become the world's fourth leading cause of
The Russian AIDS prevention service reports a twelve fold
increase in new cases of HIV in Moscow.
The first efficacy trial of a potential HIV vaccine in a
developing country starts in Thailand.

The United Nations Security Council discusses HIV/AIDS

for the first time.
China opens its first telephone hotline' for sexual health

36 million people are reported to be living with
HIV/AIDS. Eastern Europe shows a massive increase in infection
A consortium of Australian researchers are awarded a $27
million contract to develop an HIV vaccine.





United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan launches

the creation of a global fund on AIDS and other infectious
diseases. This fund later becomes known as the Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria'.
Two important documents on the global response to
HIV/AIDS are published:
the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS',
resulting from the United Nations General Assembly Special
Session; and the
the International Labour Organisation Code of
Practice on HIV/AIDS in the Workplace'.
By December 2001 more than 60 million people have
been infected with the virus. AIDS is now the leading cause of
death in sub-Saharan Africa.

11.8 million children and young people around the world

are living with HIV/AIDS.
Participants at the International AIDS Conference, Spain,
identify enabling protection against HIV and providing adequate
and affordable treatment as the most significant challenges
facing the global response.

UNAIDS forms important alliances with the International

Cricket Council, to help fight HIV/AIDS in cricket playing
countries; and another with the World Trade Organisation, to
provide developing countries with cheaper HIV-related drugs.
Globally, a young person is now infected with HIV every
14 seconds.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

holds its first Partnership Forum' in Thailand.
Global funding has increased from roughly US$2.1 billion
to an estimated US$6.1 billion, and access to prevention and
care services has improved. UNAIDS launches The Global
Coalition on Women and AIDS' to raise the visibility of the

epidemic's impact on women and girls.


The United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting

on HIV/AIDS is held to review progress on targets set at the 2001
United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS.
The World Health Organisation, US Government and
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announce
results of joint efforts to increase the availability of
antiretroviral drugs in developing countries. At the end of 2004,
an estimated 700,000 people have been reached.
On 13 March, China announces that it has begun human
trials of an HIV vaccine.

The International AIDS Society conference is held in

Toronto. The theme is Time to Deliver'.


A US based AIDS Museum is established. The mission

statement of the Museum is that it will be America's national
institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of
the AIDS pandemic. The mission of the Museum will be to
advance and disseminate knowledge about AIDS, to preserve the
memory of those who have died and continue to suffer, and to
encourage visitors to reflect upon the medical, political, and
humanitarian questions raised by the AIDS pandemic'.
UNAIDS estimates that at the end of 2005, 39 million
people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, 4.1 million became
newly infected and 2.8 million died.
Australia's nearest neighbours, Indonesia and Papua New
Guinea are facing growing HIV epidemics. The Australian
Government signs a memorandum of understanding with the
Clinton Foundation, donating $25 million over four years to
increase the availability of antiretroviral drugs, improve
laboratory and testing infrastructure and strengthen monitoring
and evaluation systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

In simple terms - you can't 'catch' AIDS. You can, however, catch HIV. Being infected with HIV does not mean
that one has AIDS, but if left undiagnosed and/or untreated, HIV infection damages the immune system and
can progress to AIDS.
AIDS results from the desruction of the immune system by HIV. The immune system's function is to fight off
infections and other diseases. If your immune system is damaged or not working well, you are at risk of lifethreatening infections and cancers. HIV attacks and destroys the disease fighting cells of the immune
system. The body is left with a weakened defense against disease.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is found in the following body fluids; semen, blood, vaginal fluids and breast milk. Infection can only
occur when body fluids from an infected person enter the blood stream of another person.

Worldwide, unprotected sex between men and women is the main route of HIV transmission. In Australia,
HIV has mainly been transmitted through unprotected sex between men. However, transmission rates
between men and women are increasing.
HIV can be transmitted by:

Unprotected sex (sex without a condom)

Sharing needles and syringes

Unsterile body piercing or tattooing

Mother to child

Blood transfusion and/or blood products pre 1990

HIV cannot be transmitted by:







Sharing Cutlery and crockery

Bed Linen

Toilets or Showers


Or through any form of casual contact

Four stages of HIV

Stage 1 Primary

Short, flu-like illness occurs one to six weeks after infection

No symptoms at all
Infected person can infect other people

Stage 2 Asymptomatic

Lasts for an average of ten years

This stage is free from symptoms
There may be swollen glands
The level of HIV in the blood drops low levels
HIV antibodies are detectable in the blood

Stage 3 Symptomatic

The symptoms are mild

The immune system deteriorate
Emergence of opportunistic infections and cancers

Stage 4 HIV AIDS

The immune system weakens

The illnesses become more severe leading to an AIDS diagnosis