A second global case of remission in an individual with AIDS after stopping treatment was announced on Tuesday by researchers. The researches consider this case to likely be cured, although it is still too early to say.
Let's take a look back at the major stages of the disease, from its emergence to the current hopes of ending the pandemic.
1981: the first alert
On June 5, 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a rare form of pneumonia in young homosexual Californians. This was the first AIDS alert. At that time, nothing was known about the disease and it did not even have a name.
The CDC then reports the same "opportunistic infections" among injecting drug users (late 1981), individuals with hemophilia using blood transfusions (mid-1982), and Haitians residing in the United States (mid-1982). It was given the name the "4H" disease (homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians). The English term "aids" ("acquired immune deficiency syndrome") appeared in 1982.
1983: the discovery of the virus
In January 1983, at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, researchers Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Jean-Claude Chermann, under the direction of Luc Montagnier, isolated a new virus they called LAV, which "could be involved" in AIDS. On April 23, 1984, the United States announced that the American retrovirus specialist Robert Gallo had found the "probable" cause of AIDS, a retrovirus called HTLV-III.
LAV and HTLV-III are the same virus, named in 1986 human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.
1987: the first treatment
On March 20, 1987, the first antiretroviral treatment, AZT, was approved in the United States. It was an expensive treatment, which had many adverse side effects. On March 31, 1987, an agreement was signed between France and the United States to end the dispute over the precedence of the discovery of HIV, supplemented by an agreement with the Institut Pasteur in 1994. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008.
Early 1990s: the first media deaths
American actor Rock Hudson is the first-known famous AIDS victim, who died in October 1985. In the early 1990s, several stars also passed away: Freddie Mercury in November 1991 and Rudolf Nureyev in January 1993. In 1994, AIDS became the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 25 to 44.
1995-96: the beginning of triple therapy
In 1995-96, the introduction of two new classes of drugs marked a turning point: protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. This is the beginning of combinations of different antiretroviral drugs: triple therapies, which were proving to be very effective. 1996 marked the first time in the United States, since the beginning spread of the disease, that the number of victims of declined.
1999: 50 million people infected
A WHO and UNAIDS report in November 1999 estimated that 50 million people had been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. 16 million had died as a result. Africa was the first affected continent with 12.2 million people living with HIV.
2001: Generic drugs
After an agreement signed in 2000 by UNAIDS and five major laboratories to distribute affordable treatments in poor countries, a compromise was signed on November 12, 2001 at the WTO to allow developing countries to manufacture generic medicines.
2012: preventive treatment
On July 16, 2012, the first preventive treatment called PrEP ("pre-exposure prophylaxis"), the antiretroviral cocktail Truvada, was authorized in the United States.
2017: half of the patients treated
2017 marked for the first time that more than half of the world's patients were being treated, according to UNAIDS. In 2017, 36.9 million people were infected with HIV. Some 35.4 million people living with HIV had died since 1981.
2019: a second remission
A second HIV-positive patient experiences a long-term remission after discontinuing treatment. The man known as the "London patient" has not shown HIV infection for nearly 19 months. Like the "Berlin patient", the only person in the world considered to be cured (and now for nearly twelve years), the "London patient" is likely to be cured after having received a bone marrow transplant an HIV-resistant donor to treat the "London patient's" blood cancer.
UNAIDS leads the global effort to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
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