Our timeline: past and future

The following is a summary of events provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For further information, visit  CDC.gov.

June 5, 1981

A rare lung disease, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), is identified by the CDC. This is the first official reporting of what will become known as the AIDS epidemic.

Dec. 10, 1981

Bobbi Campbell becomes the first Kaposi Sarcoma patient to go public, writing a newspaper column on living with “gay cancer”.

Dec. 31, 1981

There is a cumulative total of 270 reported cases, including 121 deaths, of severe immune deficiency among gay men.

June 4, 1982

Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first community-based AIDS service provider in the U.S., is founded in New York City.

Sept. 24, 1982

CDC uses the term “AIDS” (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for the first time, and releases the first case definition of AIDS.

Jan. 7, 1983

CDC reports cases of AIDS in female sexual partners of males with AIDS.

Feb. 1983

CDC establishes the National AIDS Hotline to respond to public inquiries about the disease.

March, 1983

The CDC announces that injection drug use is a leading cause of AIDS transmission in the United States.

May 18, 1983

The U.S. Congress passes the first bill with specific funding ($12 million) for AIDS research and treatment.

May 1984

Community-based AIDS service organizations join together to form AIDS Action, a national organization in Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf of people and communities affected by the epidemic, to educate the federal government, and to help shape AIDS-related policy and legislation.

July 13, 1984

The CDC states that avoiding injection drug use and reducing needle-sharing should also be effective in preventing transmission of the virus.

Aug. 27, 1985

Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS through contaminated blood products used to treat his hemophilia, is refused entry to his middle school.

Oct. 24, 1986

CDC reports that AIDS cases are disproportionately affecting African American and Latin children, who make up 90% of perinatally acquired AIDS cases.

March 19, 1987

FDA approves the first antiretroviral drug, zidovudine, abbreviated as AZT. The U.S. Congress approves $30 million in emergency funding to states for AZT—laying the groundwork for what will be the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), authorized by the Ryan White CARE Act in 1990.


Senator Jesse Helms equates syringe services programs with a federal endorsement of drug use and leads Congress to enact a prohibition on the use of federal funds for such programs.

The National AIDS Fund was founded in 1988. We’ve spent the decades since supporting community-driven efforts to combat the HIV epidemic across the country. From the beginning, we recognized and focused on the most disproportionately affected populations, including gay and bisexual men, communities of color, women and people living in the South.

Aug. 18, 1990

The U.S. Congress enacts the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990 [PDF Download], which provides $220.5 million in federal funds for HIV community-based care and treatment services in its first year. HRSA is given responsibility for managing the program, which is the nation’s largest HIV-specific federal grant program.


A panel convened by the United States Institute of Medicine recommends that the U.S. government lift the ban on funding syringe services programs, finding that syringe services programs are effective at reducing rates of HIV while not contributing to an increase in drug use. A review by the CDC reaches a similar conclusion.

June 27, 1995

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS is formed, and the National Association of People With AIDS launches the first National HIV Testing Day.

Oct. 31, 1995

500,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the U.S.

Jan. 1, 1996

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, begins operations, advocating for global action and coordination on the HIV epidemic.

April 1997

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala endorses the scientific evidence backing syringe services programs and calls for a lift of the federal funding ban on syringe services programs. Rep. Danny Hastert denounces the anticipated lifting of the ban. Then-President Bill Clinton, bowing to pressure from Congress and his administration’s director of national drug control policy, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, maintains the prohibition.

April 24, 1998

CDC issues the first national treatment guidelines for the use of antiretroviral therapy in adults and adolescents with HIV.

Feb. 7, 2001

The HIV community recognized the first annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S.

Jan. 2004

The U.S Congress authorizes the first $350 million for the United States President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief.

Jan. 2004

The United States President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief upholds the prohibition on federal funding for syringe services programs.


Dr. Julio Montaner pioneers the concept of treatment as prevention, or TasP. 

July 25, 2008

A study finds that people taking HIV treatment can now expect to live into their 60s and beyond. A 20-year-old living with HIV who starts treatment can expect to live to 70.


Congress lifts the prohibition on federal funding for syringe services.


The Department of Health and Human Services issues implementation guidelines for programs interested in using federal dollars for syringe services programs. The United States President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief endorses syringe services programs.

Jan. 4, 2010

The U.S. Government officially lifts the HIV travel and immigration ban.


Congress reinstates the prohibition on federal funding for syringe services programs.

July 3, 2012

The FDA approves the first at-home HIV test that will let users learn their HIV status right away.

July 16, 2012

The FDA approves the use of Truvada for preexposure prophylaxis, PrEP.

March 4, 2014

PARTNER 1 study reports no one with an undetectable viral load can transmit HIV. The study included 44,000 times a couple where one person was living with HIV and the other was not had sex without a condom.


Congress passes a partial repeal: The use of federal money to pay for sterile syringes is still prohibited, but funds can now be used to pay for other aspects of syringe services programs.

Feb. 25, 2015

Indiana state health officials announce an HIV outbreak linked to injection drug use in the southeastern portion of the state. By the end of the year, Indiana will confirm 184 new cases of HIV linked to the outbreak.

Oct. 19, 2016

Dr. Carl Dieffenbach and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health confirm undetectable=untransmittable or U=U.