Timeline of HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Timeline of HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, unless otherwise noted 

To read the full timeline, click here.





A Los Angeles doctor examined a young man with a severe yeast infection in his throat.  A count of the T4-Helper cells in the man's immune system, revealed there were none.

A baby in New York City who was given a series of blood transfusions, sickened quickly and died.

Some researchers designated this new disease with the acronym GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) despite the fact that the CDC reported there were known cases of heterosexual transmission. 

Doctors concluded that a hemophiliac patient who died of PCP became immune suppressed because of infection derived from Factor VIII, the clotting factor.  Hemophiliacs were identified as a "high risk group."

CDC adopted AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) as the official name of the new disease.

Following birth of a baby girl with HIV infection, the CDC confirmed that perinatal HIV transmission was possible from infected mother to child.

Dr. Robert Gallo of the United States, identifies HIV as the cause of AIDS.

CDC states that abstention from intravenous drug use and reduction of needle-sharing “should also be effective in prevention transmission of the virus.”

In the US, all donated blood began to be screened for antibodies to the virus.  Two laboratory procedures, the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) Test and the Western Blot Test, began to be used to detect HIV antibodies.

First International AIDS Conference held in Atlanta. Hosted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ryan White, a 13 year old hemophiliac with AIDS who had been barred from attending school since September 1985, was allowed to return to classes.  Opposition to his attendance slowly ended.

Stages of HIV disease are identified:  viral infection without clinical symptoms (HIV+ asymptomatic), some AIDS-related symptoms (HIV+ symptomatic), and diagnosis of one or more life-threatening, opportunistic infections such as KS or PCP, resulting in a clinical diagnosis of AIDS (Diagnosed AIDS).

The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM), the UCC Office for Church in Society (OCIS) and the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) collaborated with one another to form UCAN, a loosely formed network within the UCC.

U.S. FDA adds HIV prevention as a new indication for male condoms.

In January 1989, the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (UCBHM), the UCC Office for Church in Society (OCIS) and the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) co-sponsored a UCC AIDS Ministry Consultation attended by UCC clergy and lay members with extensive, firsthand experience in HIV and AIDS ministry.  A Consultation report entitled, AIDS, Where We Live, set forth the Consultation's recommendations to the whole church and was sent to UCC Executives and Conference Ministers. 

The other important outcome from the Consultation was the creation of the United Church of Christ AIDS/HIV Network (UCAN), which participants in the Consultation had covenanted together to do. An Ad Hoc Leadership Team was formed whose primary task was to review the report of the Consultation and oversee UCAN preparations for GS17, including preparation of two General Synod resolutions called for by the Consultation.

Ryan White died of AIDS.  His death spurred a U.S. Congressional movement to provide increased funds to cities hardest hit by AIDS through the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. In the first year, it is funded at $220.5 million.

The CDC announced revision of its definition of AIDS, effective January 1, 1993.  The new definition allowed doctors to make an AIDS diagnosis for any HIV+ person whose T-cell level dropped to 200 or fewer T-cells per cubic millimeter of blood.  


Professional basketball superstar, Magic Johnson, announces that he is HIV-positive.

Wisconsin Pharmacal Co. sought approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a condom for females.  


FDA licenses first rapid HIV test, which provides results in as little as ten minutes. 

Affirming Persons, Saving Lives (APSL)
was created, a groundbreaking curriculum for AIDS awareness and prevention education. In that same year, UCAN received the National AIDS Interfaith Network's Special Award for Outstanding Curriculum Development for APSL. 


President Clinton signs HIV immigration exclusion policy into law.

President Clinton establishes White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP).



U.S. FDA approves an oral HIV test, the first non-blood based antibody test for HIV.


President Clinton establishes Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).

First National HIV Testing Day created by the National Association of People with AIDS.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) begins operations; established to advocate for global action on the epidemic, and to coordinate HIV/AIDS efforts across the UN system.


HIV no longer leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25-44; remains leading cause of death for African Americans in this age group.


U.S. CDC reports that, among men who have sex with men in the U.S., African American and Latino cases exceed those among whites.


At General Synod 23 (Kansas City, MO), a resolution entitled, "The Epidemic of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome on the Continent of Africa," was passed.  This resolution recommended information-sharing with local churches, Associations, and Conferences on how the United Church of Christ is responding to the AIDS crisis in Africa and how these groups may further assist this response.


United Nations General Assembly convenes first ever special session on AIDS, “UNGASS”


HIV is leading cause of death worldwide, among those aged 15-59.

President Bush announces PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, during the State of the Union Address; PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion initiative to address HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria primarily in hard hit countries.

“3 by 5” Initiative announced by World Health Organization, to bring treatment to 3 million people by 2005. 

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) nations call for creation of “Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise,” a consortium of government and private sector groups designed to coordinate and accelerate research efforts to find an effective HIV vaccine.


UCAN recommitted itself to promote awareness and offer technical assistance to racial/ethnic minority constituencies throughout the country, who are now among the highest risk group for HIV transmission.


U.S. Congress reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act for the third time. 


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention releases revised HIV testing recommendations for health-care settings, recommending routine HIV screening for all adults, aged 13-64, and yearly screening for those at high risk.

President Bush calls on Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR at $30 billion over 5 years (White House Press Release)

In order to continue to increase UCAN’s capacity in the most effective ways, the Wider Church Ministries Board of Directors approved a proposal to create a new 501(c)(3) for UCAN.  

UCAN Inc. acquired its own IRS 501(c)(3) status, in order to more effectively and efficiently carry out its mission, yet also maintain strong service ties to UCC's global community.

In June 2008, UCAN demonstrated their commitment to the use of culturally/linguistically appropriate resources by publishing a Spanish language version of their HIV education cards, "Why Use Condoms".  

At the 27th General Synod, a Resolution “Calling for Comprehensive HIV Prevention in Church and Society”was overwhelmingly passed.  

President Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, which is the fourth reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act.

President Obama also announced that he would be lifting the ban which prohibits HIV-positive people from entering the United States without a waiver. The policy change took effect January 4, 2010.




To read the full timeline, click here.



Contact Info

Michael Schuenemeyer
Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115