25 years of AIDS
Anthony S Fauci, one of the world's leading experts on HIV/AIDS, summarises the first quarter century of the pandemic
In June 1981 the first cases of what is now known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Many researchers speculated that the profound immunodeficiency in these patients was because of some environmental factor, perhaps even recreational drug misuse. Initially an infectious agent seemed unlikely to be the cause of this syndrome-otherwise why had it not been seen before? The idea that the problem could be resolved quickly was early optimism.
Soon it became clear that hopes for an easy solution were unfounded. Cases of AIDS were soon reported in diverse populations of men and women and in children born to women with AIDS or women who had a history of drug misuse. Accumulating epidemiological data showed soon that a virulent micro-organism was to blame, and by 1983 a likely culprit-a previously unknown retrovirus-had been identified. Now it is known as the human