Global HIV/AIDS Timeline


On June 5, 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first warning about a relatively rare form of pneumonia among a small group of young gay men in Los Angeles, which was later determined to be AIDS-related. While scientists believe that HIV was present years before the first case was brought to public attention, 1981 is generally referred to as the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since that time, tens of millions of people have been infected with HIV worldwide. The Global HIV/AIDS Timeline is designed to serve as an ongoing reference tool for the many political, scientific, cultural, and community developments that have occurred over the history of the epidemic.

Timeline by Year

1981 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 |90|  91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 |2000| 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 


  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports first cases of rare pneumonia in young gay men in the June 5 MMWR. These cases were later determined to be AIDS. This marks the official beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. CDC also issues report on highly unusual occurrence of rare skin cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, among young gay men in the July 4 MMWR.
  • First mainstream news coverage of the CDC’s June 5 MMWR by the Associated Press and the LA Times on the same day it is issued. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on it the next day.
  • New York Times publishes its first news story on AIDS on July 3.


  • U.S. CDC establishes term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); refers to four “identified risk factors:” male homosexuality, intravenous drug abuse, Haitian origin, and hemophilia A.
  • Cases of AIDS now present in many states and its cause not yet known.
  • “GRID” or “gay-related immune deficiency” increasingly used by media and health care professionals, mistakenly suggesting inherent link between homosexuality and AIDS.
  • First U.S. Congressional hearings on AIDS held.
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first community-based AIDS service provider in the U.S., established in New York City.
  • City and County of San Francisco, working closely with San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Shanti Project and others, develops the “San Francisco Model of Care,” which emphasizes home- and community-based services for people with AIDS.
  • First AIDS case reported in Africa.


  • The U.S. Public Health Service issues recommendations for preventing transmission of the infection through sexual contact and blood transfusions.
  • U.S. CDC clarifies its use of term “high risk group” and urges that it not be used to justify discrimination or unwarranted fear of casual transmission.
  • U.S. CDC adds female sexual partners of men with AIDS as fifth risk group.
  • The Orphan Drug Act is signed into U.S. law, providing incentives to drug companies to develop therapies for rare diseases.
  • In the September 9 MMWR, U.S. CDC notes that AIDS has not been spread through casual contact and declares that “AIDS is not known to be transmitted through food, water, air, or environmental surfaces.”
  • Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in France isolates lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) — which he believed to be related to AIDS — and publishes findings. That same year, Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. successfully cultivates LAV (which he identified as HTLV-III) in lab and submits paper for publication proposing that a retrovirus causes AIDS.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) holds first meeting to assess the impact of AIDS globally and begins international surveillance.
  • People living with AIDS (PWAs) take over plenary stage at a U.S. conference and issue statement on the rights of PWAs referred to as The Denver Principles.
  • National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and Federation of AIDS Related Organizations form.
  • AIDS Candlelight Memorial held for the first time.


  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute finds that a retrovirus causes AIDS. Dr. Gallo and Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute hold joint press conference in June announcing discovery that a retrovirus (identified as HTLV-III by Gallo and LAV by Montagnier; see 1983 entry) — later named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) — causes AIDS.
  • U.S. CDC states that abstention from intravenous drug use and reduction of needle-sharing “should also be effective in preventing transmission of the virus.”
  • San Francisco officials order bathhouses closed; major public controversy ensues and continues in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.
  • AIDS Action Council is formed by small group of AIDS service organizations from across the U.S.


  • President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time.
  • First International AIDS Conference held in Atlanta, hosted by U.S. HHS and WHO.
  • At least one HIV/AIDS case reported in each region of the world. First HIV case reported in China.
  • First HIV test licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); detects antibodies to HIV. Blood banks begin screening the U.S. blood supply.
  • Pentagon announces it will begin testing all new recruits for HIV and will reject those who are positive.
  • U.S. Public Health Service issues first recommendations for preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child.
  • Rock Hudson announces that he has AIDS and dies later this year.
  • Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS, is barred from school; goes on to speak out publicly against AIDS stigma and discrimination.
  • First major play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic, “The Normal Heart” by playwright Larry Kramer, opens.
  • American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) founded by Co-Chairs Mathilde Krim and Michael S. Gottlieb, and National Chair Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Project Inform founded to advocate for faster government approval of HIV drugs.
  • National AIDS Network (NAN) in the U.S. forms.


  • National Academy of Sciences issues report critical of U.S. response to “national health crisis;” calls for $2 billion investment.
  • U.S. Surgeon General Koop issues Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS, calling for education and condom use.
  • Institute of Medicine report calls for a national education campaign and creation of National Commission on AIDS in U.S.
  • AZT, the first drug used to treat HIV/AIDS, begins clinical trials.
  • First HIV cases reported in Russia and India.
  • 2nd International AIDS Conference held in Paris, France.
  • International Steering Committee for People with HIV/AIDS (ISC) created; becomes Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+) in 1992.
  • Ricky Ray, a nine-year-old hemophiliac with HIV,  barred from Florida school; his family’s home burned by arsonists the following year.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation creates “AIDS Health Services Program,” providing funding to hard hit U.S. cities; program is precursor to Ryan White CARE Act.
  • Informal distribution of clean syringes begins in Boston and New Haven.
  • First panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt created.


  • First antiretroviral (ARV) drug — zidovudine or AZT (a nucleoside analog) — approved by U.S. FDA.
  • U.S. Congress approves $30 million in emergency funding to states for AZT.
  • AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) established in New York in response to proposed cost of AZT; the price of AZT is subsequently lowered.
  • President Reagan makes first public speech about AIDS; establishes Presidential Commission on HIV (Watkins Commission).
  • U.S. CDC launches first AIDS-related public service announcements, “America Responds to AIDS.”
  • U.S. CDC holds its first National Conference on HIV and communities of color.
  • U.S. FDA adds HIV prevention as a new indication for male condoms.
  • U.S. FDA creates new class of experimental drugs called Treatment Investigational New Drugs (INDs), which accelerates drug approval by two to three years.
  • U.S. FDA sanctions first human testing of candidate vaccine against HIV.
  • U.S. Congress adopts Helms Amendment banning use of federal funds for AIDS education materials that “promote or encourage, directly or indirectly, homosexual activities,” often referred to as the “no promo homo” policy.
  • U.S. adds HIV as a “dangerous contagious disease” to its immigration exclusion list; mandates testing of all applicants.
  • 3rd International AIDS Conference is held in Washington, D.C.
  • AIDS becomes first disease debated on floor of United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Assembly designates WHO to lead effort to address AIDS globally.
  • Global Programme on AIDS launched by WHO.
  • AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) forms in Uganda.
  • National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, National Minority AIDS Council, and National Task Force on AIDS Prevention form in the U.S.
  • First issue of “AIDS Treatment News” published to provide HIV treatment information to community members.
  • “And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic,” a history of the epidemic’s early years by Randy Shilts, published.
  • AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on National Mall in Washington, DC, for first time.
  • Entertainer Liberace dies of AIDS.


  • World AIDS Day first declared by WHO on December 1.
  • WHO reports AIDS cases increased 56% worldwide.
  • UNAIDS reports the number of women living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa exceeds that of men.
  • 4th International AIDS Conference is held in Stockholm, Sweden; International AIDS Society (IAS) forms.
  • Watkins Commission on AIDS presents report to President Reagan.
  • U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) establishes Office of AIDS Research (OAR) and AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG).
  • U.S. FDA allows importation of unapproved drugs for persons with life-threatening illnesses, including HIV/AIDS.
  • ACT UP demonstrates at U.S. FDA headquarters in protest of slow pace of drug approval process.
  • The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awards 21 grants to plan for HIV/AIDS systems of care, laying groundwork for statewide programs later funded through Ryan White CARE Act.
  • U.S. Health Omnibus Programs Extension (HOPE) Act of 1988 authorizes use of federal funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and testing.
  • U.S. Surgeon General Koop and U.S. CDC mail brochure “Understanding AIDS” to all U.S. households; first and only national mailing of its kind.
  • U.S. Justice Department says people with HIV/AIDS cannot be discriminated against.
  • Judge in Florida rules young girl with AIDS can only attend school if in glass enclosure.
  • U.S. CDC launches TV commercial campaign about AIDS awareness aimed at minorities.
  • Elizabeth Glaser, an HIV positive mother of two HIV positive children, and two friends form the Pediatric AIDS Foundation; later renamed the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
  • First comprehensive needle exchange program (NEP) established in North America in Tacoma, Washington; New York City creates first government-funded NEP; San Francisco establishes what becomes largest NEP in the U.S.


  • A foreign traveler with AIDS is not allowed into U.S. because he has AIDS.
  • U.S. Congress creates National Commission on AIDS.
  • U.S. CDC issues first guidelines for prevention of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), an AIDS-related opportunistic infection and major cause of morbidity and mortality for people with HIV.
  • Head of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, endorses parallel track policy, giving those that do not qualify for clinical trials access to experimental treatments.
  • AIDS activists stage several major protests about AIDS drugs during year, including at the Golden Gate Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, and U.S. headquarters of Burroughs Wellcome.
  • 5th International AIDS Conference (“The Scientific and Social Challenge of AIDS”) held in Montreal, Canada.
  • First “Day Without Art” organized by Visual AIDS to underscore impact of AIDS on the arts.
  • Dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey dies of AIDS.
  • Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe dies of AIDS.


  • Ryan White dies at 18.
  • Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990 enacted by U.S. Congress. Provides federal funds for community-based care and treatment services; funded at $220.5 million in first year.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) enacted by U.S. Congress; prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • U.S. FDA approves use of AZT for pediatric AIDS.
  • 6th International AIDS Conference (“AIDS in the Nineties: From Science to Policy”) held in San Francisco, CA. To protest U.S. immigration policy, domestic and international non-governmental groups boycott conference. The 1992 conference, scheduled to take place in Boston, moved to Amsterdam.
  • Kimberly Bergalis, of Florida, believed to have been infected with HIV by her dentist, causing major public debate.
  • First National Conference on Women and AIDS held in Washington, D.C.
  • “Women, AIDS and Activism,” developed by ACT UP’s Women’s Caucus, published, becoming the first book of its kind.
  • Pop artist Keith Haring dies of AIDS.


  • NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson announces he is HIV-positive and retires from basketball.
  • U.S. CDC recommends restrictions on practice of HIV-positive health care workers; U.S. Congress enacts law requiring states to take similar action.
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Act of 1991 enacted by U.S. Congress. Provides housing assistance to people living with AIDS through grants to U.S. states and local communities.
  • 7th International AIDS Conference (“Science Challenging AIDS”) held in Florence, Italy.
  • ICASO (International Council of AIDS Service Organizations) forms as global network of non-governmental and community-based organizations.
  • Red ribbon introduced as international symbol of AIDS awareness at Tony Awards by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Visual AIDS.
  • Lead singer of band Queen Freddie Mercury dies of AIDS.


  • AIDS becomes number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44.
  • U.S. FDA licenses first rapid HIV test, which provides results in as little as ten minutes.
  • 8th International AIDS Conference (“A World United Against AIDS”) held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; would have taken place in Boston but was moved due to U.S. immigration ban.
  • International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) founded.
  • Teenager Ricky Ray, whose home was torched because he and his siblings were HIV-positive, dies of AIDS.
  • Mary Fisher and Bob Hattoy, each HIV-positive, address the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, respectively.
  • Tennis star Arthur Ashe announces he has AIDS.


  • U.S. President Clinton establishes White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP).
  • U.S. CDC initiates HIV prevention community planning process for local distribution of federal prevention funding.
  • U.S. CDC expands case definition of AIDS to reflect fuller spectrum of the disease, including adding conditions specific to women and injection drug users.
  • U.S. FDA approves female condom for sale in U.S.
  • U.S. Congress enacts NIH Revitalization Act, giving the OAR primary oversight of all NIH AIDS research; requires NIH and other research agencies to expand involvement of women and minorities in all research. President Clinton signs HIV immigration exclusion policy into law as part of the same law.
  • Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and HIV Epidemiology Study (HERS) begin; both major U.S. federally-funded research studies on women and HIV/AIDS.
  • First annual “AIDSWatch” — hundreds of community members from across U.S. converge in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress for increased AIDS funding.
  • 9th International AIDS Conference is held in Berlin, Germany.
  • “Angels in America,” Tony Kushner’s play about AIDS, wins Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
  • “Philadelphia,” film starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer with AIDS, opens in theaters, becoming first major Hollywood movie on AIDS.
  • Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev dies of AIDS.
  • Tennis star Arthur Ashe dies of AIDS.
  • Leading advocate for women with AIDS in prison Katrina Haslip dies of AIDS.


  • AIDS becomes leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25 to 44; remains so through 1995.
  • U.S. Public Health Service recommends use of AZT by pregnant women to reduce perinatal transmission of HIV; based on “076” study showing up to 70% reduction in transmission.
  • U.S. FDA approves oral HIV test, first non-blood based antibody test for HIV.
  • NIH issues guidelines requiring applicants for NIH grants to address “the appropriate inclusion of women and minorities in clinical research.”
  • 10th International AIDS Conference (“The Global Challenge of AIDS: Together for the Future”) held in Yokohama, Japan.
  • Author of “And the Band Played On” Randy Shilts dies of AIDS.
  • Pedro Zamora, a young gay man living with HIV, appears on the cast of MTV’s popular show, The Real World; dies later in the year at age 22.
  • Co-founder of Pediatric AIDS Foundation Elizabeth Glaser dies of AIDS.


  • First protease inhibitor, saquinavir, approved in record time by the U.S. FDA, ushering in new era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
  • U.S. CDC issues first guidelines for prevention of opportunistic infections in persons infected with HIV.
  • U.S. CDC issues report on syringe exchange programs (SEPs). The National Academy of Sciences concludes SEPs are effective component of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy.
  • U.S. President Clinton establishes Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
  • First White House Conference on HIV/AIDS held.
  • First National HIV Testing Day held on June 27; created by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
  • Olympic Gold Medal diver Greg Louganis discloses he is living with HIV; announcement leads to public debate regarding disclosure of HIV status.
  • Rap artist Eric Wright (Eazy-E of NWA) dies of AIDS.


  • 11th International AIDS Conference (“One World, One Hope”) held in Vancouver, Canada; highlights effectiveness of HAART, creating a period of optimism.
  • UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) begins operations; established to advocate for global action on epidemic and coordinate HIV/AIDS efforts across UN system.
  • IAVI (International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) forms to speed the search for effective HIV vaccine.
  • Brazil begins national ARV distribution; first developing country to do so.
  • Number of new AIDS cases diagnosed in U.S. declines for first time in history of epidemic.
  • HIV no longer leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25-44; remains leading cause of death for African-Americans in this age group.
  • Time Magazine names AIDS researcher Dr. David Ho as its “Man of the Year.”
  • The Levine Committee, a blue ribbon advisory panel, calls for overhaul of NIH AIDS research, including stronger role for OAR and increased support for vaccine-related and investigator-initiated research.
  • U.S. FDA approves viral load test, a new test that measures the level of HIV in the body.
  • U.S. FDA approves first HIV home testing and collection kit.
  • U.S. FDA approves first HIV urine test.
  • U.S. FDA approves first non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), nevirapine.
  • U.S. Congress reauthorizes Ryan White CARE Act.
  • AIDS awareness ad campaigns target larger public, not only those at high risk.
  • Former heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison announces he is HIV-positive.


  • AIDS-related deaths in U.S. decline by more than 40 percent compared to prior year, largely due to HAART.
  • U.S. President Clinton announces goal of finding an effective vaccine in 10 years and creation of Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center.
  • U.S. FDA approves Combivir, a tablet combining two ARV drugs, making it easier for people living with HIV to take medication.
  • U.S. Congress enacts FDA Modernization Act of 1997, codifying accelerated approval process and allowing dissemination of information about off-label uses of drugs.


  • First large-scale human trials (Phase III) for an HIV vaccine begin.
  • Despite earlier optimism, several reports indicate growing signs of treatment failure and side effects from HAART.
  • U.S. HHS issues first national guidelines for use of antiretroviral therapy in adults.
  • U.S. HHS Secretary Shalala determines needle exchange programs to be effective and do not encourage use of illegal drugs, but Clinton Administration does not lift ban on use of federal funds for such purposes.
  • U.S. Supreme Court, in Bragdon v. Abbott, rules that Americans with Disabilities Act covers those in earlier stages of HIV disease, not just AIDS.
  • Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act of 1998 enacted by U.S. Congress, authorizing payments to hemophiliacs infected through un-screened blood-clotting agents between 1982 and 1987.
  • Minority AIDS Initiative created in U.S., after African-American leaders declare “state of emergency” and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) calls on U.S. HHS to do the same.
  • 12th International AIDS Conference (“Bridging the Gap”) held in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) forms in South Africa; grassroots movement pushes for access to treatment.
  • Global AIDS and human rights activists Jonathan Mann and Mary Lou Clements-Mann killed in plane crash.


  • First human vaccine trial in a developing country begins in Thailand.
  • U.S. President Clinton announces Leadership and Investment in Fighting an Epidemic (LIFE) Initiative to address the global epidemic; leads to increased funding.
  • U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus, with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, convenes Congressional hearing on impact of HIV/AIDS on Latino community.
  • Founder of National Task Force on AIDS Prevention Reggie Williams dies of AIDS.


  • 13th International AIDS Conference (“Breaking the Silence”) held in Durban, South Africa; first time held in developing nation; heightens awareness of the global pandemic.
  • U.S. National Security Council and UN Security Council each declare HIV/AIDS a security threat.
  • G8 Leaders acknowledge need for additional HIV/AIDS resources during Okinawa Meeting.
  • Millennium Development Goals, announced as part of Millennium Declaration, include reversing the spread of HIV, TB, and malaria as one of 8 key goals.
  • UNAIDS, WHO, and other global health groups announce joint initiative with five major pharmaceutical manufacturers to negotiate reduced prices for AIDS drugs in developing countries.
  • U.S. Congress enacts Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act of 2000, authorizing up to $600 million for U.S. global efforts.
  • U.S. President Clinton announces Millennium Vaccine Initiative, creating incentives for development and distribution of vaccines against HIV, TB and malaria.
  • U.S. President Clinton issues Executive Order 13155 to assist developing countries in importing and producing generic forms of HIV treatments.
  • U.S. President Clinton creates first ever Presidential Envoy for AIDS Cooperation.
  • U.S. CDC forms Global AIDS Program (GAP).
  • U.S. CDC reports that among men who have sex with men in the U.S., African-American and Latino cases exceed those among whites.
  • U.S. Congress reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act for the second time.
  • U.S. HHS approves first state 1115 Medicaid expansion waivers for low-income people with HIV in Maine, Massachusetts and District of Columbia; in 2001, Massachusetts becomes first state to enroll new clients.


  • June 5 marks 20 years since first AIDS case reported.
  • UN General Assembly convenes first ever special session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS.
  • UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls for a global fund, a “war chest”, to address AIDS, during African Summit on HIV/AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, reaffirms U.S. statement that HIV/AIDS is a national security threat.
  • World Trade Organization announces “DOHA Agreement” to allow developing countries to buy or manufacture generic medications to meet public health crises, such as HIV/AIDS.
  • Generic drug manufacturers offer to produce discounted, generic forms of HIV/AIDS drugs; several major pharmaceutical manufacturers agree to offer further reduced drugs prices in developing countries.
  • First National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.
  • First National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day in U.S.


  • HIV is leading cause of death worldwide among those aged 15-59.
  • Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria begins operations; approves first round of grants later this year.
  • 14th International AIDS Conference (“Knowledge and Commitment”) held in Barcelona, Spain.
  • UNAIDS reports that women comprise about half of all adults living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
  • U.S. National Intelligence Council releases report on “next wave” of epidemic, focused on India, China, Russia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.
  • U.S. FDA approves OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test; first rapid test to use finger prick. OraQuick granted Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) waiver in 2003, enabling test to be performed outside of laboratory, allowing more widespread use.


  • President Bush announces President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a five-year, $15 billion initiative to address HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria in hard hit countries.
  • G8 Evian Summit includes special focus on HIV/AIDS; new commitments to the Global Fund announced.
  • WHO announces “3 by 5” Initiative, intended to bring treatment to 3 million people by 2005.
  • Government of South Africa announces new antiretroviral treatment program.
  • William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation secures price reductions for HIV/AIDS drugs from generic manufacturers to benefit developing nations.
  • First National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.


  • PEPFAR begins first round of funding.
  • UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan compares war on terror to war on AIDS.
  • UNAIDS launches Global Coalition on Women and AIDS to raise the visibility of epidemic’s impact on women and girls.
  • Group of Eight (G8) nations call for creation of “Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise,” a consortium of government and private sector groups designed to coordinate and accelerate research efforts to find an effective HIV vaccine.
  • 15th International AIDS Conference (“Access for All”) held in Bangkok, Thailand; first time held in Southeast Asia.
  • Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria holds first ever “Partnership Forum” in Bangkok, Thailand; 400 delegates participate.
  • U.S. HHS announces expedited review process by U.S. FDA for fixed dose combination and co-packaged products; to be used by the U.S. in purchasing medications under PEPFAR.
  • U.S. FDA approves OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test for use with oral fluid; oral fluid rapid test granted CLIA waiver.


  • United Kingdom hosts G8 Summit at Gleneagles; focus on development in Africa, including HIV/AIDS.
  • World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland includes focus on addressing HIV/AIDS in Africa and other hard hit regions.
  • UN General Assembly convenes high-level meeting to review progress on targets set at 2001 UNGASS on HIV/AIDS.
  • WHO, UNAIDS, U.S. Government, and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announce results of joint efforts to increase availability of antiretroviral drugs in developing countries. An estimated 700,000 people had been reached by the end of 2004.
  • U.S. FDA grants “Tentative Approval to Generic AIDS Drug Regimen for Potential Purchase Under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief”, marking first ever approval of an HIV drug regimen manufactured by a non-U.S.-based generic pharmaceutical company, under U.S. FDA’s new expedited review process.
  • First Indian drug manufacturer (Ranbaxy) gains U.S. FDA approval to produce generic antiretroviral for PEPFAR.
  • First National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.


  • June 5 marks quarter century since first AIDS case reported.
  • United Nations convenes follow-up meeting and issues progress report on the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
  • Russia hosts G8 Summit for first time (in St. Petersburg); HIV/AIDS is addressed.
  • First Eastern European and Central Asian AIDS Conference (EECAAC) held in Moscow, Russia.
  • 16th International AIDS Conference (“Time to Deliver”) held in Toronto, Canada.
  • U.S. CDC releases revised HIV testing recommendations for health-care settings, recommending routine HIV screening for all adults, aged 13-64, and yearly screening for those at high risk.
  • U.S. Congress reauthorizes Ryan White CARE Act for third time.
  • First National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.
  • First National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.


  • President Bush calls on Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR at $30 billion over 5 years.
  • WHO and UNAIDS issue new guidance recommending “provider-initiated” HIV testing in health-care settings.
  • WHO and UNAIDS recommend “male circumcision should always be considered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package.”


  • U.S. Congress reauthorizes PEPFAR for an additional 5 years at up to $48 billion; the legislation ends the statutory HIV travel and immigration ban.
  • UN General Assembly convenes UNGASS follow-up meeting and issues progress report on implementation of Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
  • 17th International AIDS Conference (“Universal Action Now”) held in Mexico City; first time held in Latin America.
  • U.S. CDC releases new HIV incidence estimates for U.S., showing that the U.S. epidemic is worse than previously thought.
  • First National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.


  • U.S. President Obama launches the Global Health Initiative (GHI), an effort to develop a comprehensive U.S. Government approach to addressing global health in low- and middle-income countries, with PEPFAR as a core component.
  • Obama Administration officially lifts HIV travel and immigration ban by removing final regulatory barriers to entry; to take effect in January 2010. Leads to announcement that International AIDS Conference will return to U.S. for first time in more than 20 years, and be held in Washington, D.C., in 2012.
  • U.S. President Obama calls for first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy for U.S.
  • U.S. Congress eliminates long-standing statutory ban on use of federal funding for needle exchange in U.S., with caveats.
  • First National Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in U.S.


  • Removal of U.S. HIV travel and immigration ban officially begins.
  • Large international clinical study (iPrEx) shows daily dose of combination antiretroviral pill reduced risk of acquiring HIV among men who have sex with men and transgendered women who have sex with men.
  • South African researchers announce results of clinical trial CAPRISA 004 showing that use of microbicide gel reduced risk of HIV infection among sexually active women.
  • 18th International AIDS Conference (“Rights Here, Right Now”) held in Vienna, Austria; focus is on human rights as a critical part of HIV response.
  • UN convenes a summit to accelerate progress toward the 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals.
  • Obama Administration releases first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for U.S.
  • U.S. President Obama signs comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law, which provides new health insurance coverage opportunities for millions of individuals in U.S., including people with HIV. Provisions of law to be implemented in coming years.


  • June 5 marks 30 years since first AIDS case reported.
  • Large multinational study of serodiscordant, mostly heterosexual, couples (HPTN 052) shows early treatment of HIV-infected person greatly reduces transmission to negative partner.
  • UN General Assembly convenes meeting to review progress on HIV/AIDS; adopts new Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS.
  • Obama Administration announces goal of AIDS-free generation, highlighted in speeches by Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama.
  • U.S. Congress reinstates decades-long ban on federal funding for needle exchanges only two years after eliminating the same ban.
  • U.S. CDC releases new HIV incidence estimates for U.S.
  • U.S. HHS launches 12 Cities Project, focusing resources on areas with the highest HIV/AIDS burden in the country.
  • AIDS activist and actress Elizabeth Taylor dies.


  • XIX International AIDS Conference held in Washington, D.C., marking first time conference held in U.S. since 1990.
  • U.S. FDA approves OraQuick In-Home Test, first rapid test using oral fluid that can be bought over-the-counter; results of which are obtained at home.
  • U.S. FDA approves the use of Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) for reducing risk of HIV infection in uninfected individuals at high risk, marking the first HIV treatment to be approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).


  • UNAIDS reports that since 2005, deaths related to AIDS have declined by almost 30%.
  • WHO releases new guidelines recommending earlier use of antiretrovirals, calling for treatment to begin when CD4 cell count falls below 500 cells/mm3, a change from the previous standard of 350 cells/mm3; also includes recommendations related to antiretroviral therapy for children under 5 with HIV, pregnant and breastfeeding women with HIV, and HIV-positive persons with uninfected sexual partners.
  • Article published in the New England Journal of Medicine details case of an infant thought to be cured of HIV by starting HAART 30 hours after birth.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry marks the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR.
  • U.S. Preventative Services Task Force gives routine HIV screening an A grade, indicating “there is high certainty that the net benefit is substantial.”
  • U.S. President Obama issues HIV Care Continuum Initiative executive order “to further strengthen the capacity of the Federal Government to effectively respond to the ongoing domestic HIV epidemic.”
  • U.S. Congress passes, and U.S. President Obama signs, HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, allowing HIV-infected organs to be donated to persons who are already living with HIV.


  • Child thought to have cleared HIV with treatment tests positive for HIV, a disappointing setback in the quest for a cure.
  • 20th International AIDS Conference (“Stepping up the Pace”) held in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Major coverage reforms under the U.S. Affordable Care Act go into affect, impacting health coverage for many people with and at risk for HIV in U.S.
  • U.S. FDA issues statement announcing the agency “will take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.”


  • Findings from Ipergay and PROUD studies show PrEP to be effective in reducing HIV acquisition among gay men.
  • Findings from “Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment” (START) study released; show starting antiretroviral treatment early improves health outcomes for people with HIV.
  • WHO validates Cuba’s elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
  • White House announces updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy for U.S.; releases federal agency implementation plan
  • Millennium Development Goals’ HIV/AIDS-related targets of “halting and reversing” HIV/AIDS epidemic met ahead of schedule.
  • International community agrees on new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target to end AIDS epidemic by 2030; U.S. announces new PEPFAR targets for treatment and prevention.
  • WHO announces “treat all” recommendation calling for people to begin HIV treatment as soon as possible following diagnosis.
  • U.S. FDA issues final guidance changing its blood donation deferral policy for men who have sex with men from “indefinite deferral” to 12 months since last sexual contact with another man.
  • U.S. Congress lifts restrictions, under certain circumstances, for states and localities on the use of federal funds for syringe services in response to outbreaks of HIV related to injection drugs.


  • United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Ending AIDS held in New York; Member States adopt new political declaration on ending epidemic.
  • 21st International AIDS Conference (“Access Equity Rights Now”) held Durban, South Africa.
  • First organ transplant from HIV-positive donor to HIV-positive recipient conducted in U.S.
  • HHS releases guidance that permits certain jurisdictions (those experiencing or at risk for an increase in viral hepatitis or HIV infections due to injection drug use) to use federal funds to support syringe-services programs (SSPs); funds may be used for support services but not for the purchase of sterile needles or syringes.
  • Fifth Global Fund Replenishment Conference takes place in Montréal, Canada, mobilizing US$12.9 billion for the next three years.
  • Sweden becomes first country to achieve 90-90-90 targets.


  • 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science held in Paris, France.
  • U.N. and partners announce pricing agreement to accelerate the availability of first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regimen in low- and middle-income countries.


Back to Top

Key Sources

Aegis, A Brief History of HIV/AIDS,, A Timeline of AIDS,

AIDS Project Los Angeles, APLA History,

AIDS Memorial Quilt History,

AIDS-Arts Timeline,

American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR),

Arno, P., and Frieden, K., Against the Odds: The Story of AIDS Drug Development, Politics, and Profits, Harper Collins: New York, 1992.

Avert, HIV & AIDS History,

Being Alive Los Angeles,

Gay Men’s Health Crisis, HIV/AIDS Timeline.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria,

International AIDS Society,

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),

Mann, J., and Tarantola, D. (eds.), AIDS in the World II, Oxford University Press, 1996.

National Association of People with AIDS, History of

Netter, T. , Mann, J., and Tarantola, D., AIDS in the World, Harvard University Press, 1992. Library, AIDS

Personal communication with: David Barr, Pat Christen, Chris Collins, Fred Dillon, Anne Donnelly, Robert Greenwald, Steven Johnson, Miguelina IleanaLeon, Jeff Levi, Mary Lucey, David Munar, Scott Sanders, Jane Silver, Gustavo Suarez, Richard Sorian, Tom Sheridan, Todd Summers, Tim Westmoreland, Susan Wolfson.

Smith, R. (ed.), Encyclopedia of AIDS: A Social, Political, Cultural, and Scientific Record of the Epidemic, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers: Chicago and London, 1998.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC),

United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS),

University of California, San Francisco, Thirty Years of AIDS: A Timeline of the Epidemic,

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (

U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration (

U.S. National Institutes of Health (,

Also based on KFF, The AIDS Epidemic at 20 Years: Selected Milestones, prepared by Regina Aragón and Jennifer Kates, 2001,

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.