"With no effective treatment available in the 1980s, there was little hope for those diagnosed with HIV, facing debilitating illness and certain death within years," says Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV department at the World Health Organisation.
December 1, 2018, marked the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day - a day created to raise awareness about HIV and the resulting AIDS epidemics. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have acquired the infection, and about 35 million people have died. Today, around 37 million worldwide live with HIV, of whom 22 million are on treatment.
"When World AIDS Day was first established in 1988, the world looked very different to how it is today. Now, we have easily accessible testing, treatment, a range of prevention options, including pre-exposure prophylaxis of PrEP, and services that can reach vulnerable communities," WHO reported
In the late 1980s, however, "the outlook for people with HIV was pretty grim," says Dr Rachel Baggaley, coordinator of HIV testing and prevention at WHO. "Antiretrovirals weren't yet available, so although we could offer treatment for opportunistic infections there was no treatment for their HIV. It was a very sad and difficult time."
With increasing awareness that AIDS was emerging as a global public health threat, the first International AIDS Conference was held in Atlanta in 1985.
"In those early days, with no treatment on the horizon, extraordinary prevention, care and awareness-raising efforts were mobilised by communities around the world - research programmes were accelerated, condom access was expanded, harm reduction programmes were established and support services reached out to those who were sick," says Dr Andrew Ball, senior adviser on HIV at WHO.
The full, fascinating 2100-word report on this who report on the HIV scourge appears at this address: https://bit.ly/2PYJG0A