The history of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an intriguing one: the virus evolved from the simian immunodeficiency virus, which infects chimpanzees and gorillas, and made the jump to humans some time in the late 19th or early 20th century. This all happened in Africa, and it happened a long time ago. But for many, HIV only leaped into the limelight in the early 1980s, when gay men started developing rare cancers and dying from some unknown entity that caused their immune systems to collapse.
In the three decades since, the trajectory of the epidemic has very much depended on where you are in the world. Most HIV infections and deaths from AIDS occur in Africa. In Western countries, the story is vastly different. Rapid improvements in antiretroviral therapies have turned a once-lethal infection into a manageable, albeit chronic, one. This is the case in Australia.
This Sunday is World AIDS Day, an important day to reflect on how far we’ve come in the fight against a deadly virus, and where we need to focus our efforts in the future. Head over the ABC Health & Wellbeing to read the article I wrote about HIV in 2013. Another piece, focusing on the stigma associated with HIV is also on its way, so stay tuned.