It was twenty-five years ago today, June, 5, 1981, that the first cases of what would become known as HIV/AIDS were reported in the Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It was by no means the beginning of the disease– a recent study has identified the earliest infections as occurring in West Africa in the 1930's, when the virus made the jump from diseased chimpanzees to humans. It was, however, the beginning of understanding the disease.
Dr. Michael Gottlieb of UCLA's medical school was the author of the June 5 report, and in today's Los Angeles Times he reflects on his discovery, and what has happened since. Great strides, of course, have been made since the days when a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS meant a quick and awful death, but after a quarter century, much remains to be done. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Associated Press reports, "the next 25 years of AIDS promise to be deadlier than the first." And, as the LA Times reports, "A quarter-century after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the rapid pace of scientific discovery has slowed to a crawl."
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The most thorough coverage of the issues surrounding today's grim anniversary can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle.