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Forty years ago, an HIV diagnosis was traumatic – you were banned from traveling, you were likely judged by friends and family, and treatment wasn’t readily available. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the 1980s, and if you’re living with HIV, you no longer need to be afraid of your future. Recent accomplishments have not only changed the way we see HIV today, but will also influence how we see HIV tomorrow.

Below is a timeline highlighting some of the leading successes in the history of HIV.


  • June 1982: Five young, gay men in California are diagnosed with what doctors called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency)
  • Three months after the term GRID was created, the CDC renamed it AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
  • By 1985, every region in the world had reported at least one case of AIDS
  • A travel ban for people living with HIV was passed in the U.S. in 1987


  • The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to protect people living with HIV
  • In 1995, the Food & Drug Administration approved the treatment HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy), which reduced AIDS-related deaths by 60%-80%
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in 1999 that AIDS was the fourth leading cause of death in young adults worldwide
  • The first HIV home testing and collections kit is released on May 14th and in June a viral load test that measures the level of HIV in the blood is announced


  • The United Nations approves a $600 million global fund to help fight HIV
  • WHO creates the “3 by 5” which brings HIV treatment to 3 million people
  • The Ryan White CARE Act is launched and becomes the largest federally funded program in the U.S. for people living with HIV
  • The travel ban preventing people living with HIV is lifted in 2010
  • In 2011 two separate studies provide first evidence of HIV medication can be used by HIV-negative people to prevent transmission called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)

HIV in 2019

The events that have occurred throughout HIV history have led to advancements in almost all areas of HIV today. For people living with HIV, modern medicine no longer makes HIV a death sentence, and a long, healthy life is possible with treatment. It is even possible to get to the point in treatment where it is difficult for the virus to be transferred. Overall, medical professionals have gained insight into the virus that provides hope for an HIV/AIDS-free future.

Another significant step in stopping the spread of HIV is the ability for anyone living with HIV to receive financial help with treatments. Changes to insurance coverage and government programs have made it easier for you to get tested and receive the HIV treatment you need.


If you’re uninsured or underinsured, find out if you might be eligible for financial help with treatment. Contact Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania today.