A Short History of AIDS
AIDS is a short term for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is not a precise disease but is syndrome of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection. The HIV attacks the CD4 lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell and breaks it down finally stopping the function of the patient’s immune system. The absence of immunity makes the patient vulnerable to diseases and a simple flu can weaken the HIV infected person.
Kinshasha in the DR Congo has been recently identified as a place where AIDS came from. A man having the same symptoms of AIDS died there in 1959. His blood samples were tested which showed that he had HIV infection and probably died from viral infection.
His cause of infection remained a mystery but many experts believed that the cause of disease was SIV or simian immunodeficiency virus. It was transferred from chimpanzees through ingestion of monkey’s meat.
In 1981, widespread occurrences of AIDS in California and New York led to its discovery. The researchers began calling the new disease as AIDS in 1982 and described the incidences of infections – Pneumocystis and Karposi’s Sarcoma, a pneumonia in young men. Later, the incidences of same disease in the US were confirmed by 32 countries.
French researchers isolated a retrovirus in 1983 that they believed caused AIDS. The virus was called HTLV-III/LAV by an international science committee. Later it was called HIV or human immunodeficiency virus when its source was traced SIV. French researchers were the first to isolate the virus, however the US credits Doctor Robert Gallo for its discovery. Although both viruses were confirmed to be same after two years however the credit of the discovery remained with Gallo. Later, an international committee of scientists renamed the virus as HIV.
A new treatment for HIV arrived in 1987 after six years of thorough medical research. The use of drug Retrovir (AZT, Zidovudine) was approved by FDA for treating HIV. In 1992, the first use of drug in combination with AZT was approved by FDA. The addition of the drug, Hivid was the start of combined therapies of HIV/AIDS.
The fight against AIDS continued and in 1996, power HIV-fighting drugs called Protease Inhibitors were introduced. These drugs were used in combination with the existing drugs for HIV/AIDS and were effective. After a year, scientists discovered that the HIV/AIDS hides in the reservoirs in human body making it impossible to find its cure despite the effectiveness of the drugs.