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30 years of breakthroughs in HIV research

by AirTalk®

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An AIDS symbol is displayed on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2010 during the World AIDS Day. Today marks the 30th anniversary of HIV research. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

In April 1984, scientists made the breakthrough discovery of the virus which causes the fatal disease AIDS, which was rapidly sweeping through America in the early 1980s.

Then-US Health Secretary Margaret Heckler announced that a virus had been discovered which may be causing the disease and confirmed that a simple test would soon prevent the spread of HIV through blood transfusions.

The announcement set off decades of research into the spread of HIV and despite major advancements, no cure has yet been found.

Researchers have made significant progress in preventing the spread of HIV with a number experimental drugs and treatments. A cocktail of antiviral drugs has drastically reduced the rates of death and several doctors have even claimed to have cured babies born with the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection and nearly 20 percent of them are unaware they are carriers of the virus.

Without better detection and testing for HIV, how much can modern treatments stop its spread? What sort of experimental treatments are proving the most promising? What are the prospects for an eventual cure for HIV?


Michael Gottlieb, MD, a practicing physician and immunologist who is credited with being one of the authors of the first report to the CDC identifying AIDS as a new disease in 1981



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