40 years of the AIDS epidemic
Posted on June 5, 2021
As many as 37.6 million people were living with HIV worldwide in 2020.PHOTO : nito100
“This story is both an enormous human drama, but also a fabulous scientific adventure which has not found its conclusion,” says science journalist Yanick Villedieu. 40 years ago, on June 5, 1981, the review Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the weekly publication of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the first scientific article reporting the first cases of a strange disease.
This 46-line article describes five cases of men aged 29 to 36 who died from an extremely rare pneumonia, pneumocystosis. Their only point in common: they are active homosexuals. Scientists are taken aback.
« In this scientific birth certificate as I call it, there is no newborn. That is to say, we are not talking about a new microbe. We don’t think there is a new entity. We don’t know what’s going on. »
Towards the end of 1981, scientists began to identify a sexually transmitted agent that would cause these deaths. In 1982, they baptized the new disease AIDS, or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which is translated as “AIDS” in French.