History of Medicine lecture series continues with HIV-AIDS

  • Thursday, May 26, noon to 1 p.m.
  • Howe Conference Room

In the fall of 1980, Dr. Michael Gottlieb of UCLA Medical Center received a referral on a gay, white male in failing health with wasting, Pneumocystis pneumonia, and oral candidiasis.  Over the next few months, he and other colleagues observed the syndrome in four other patients, and described the new entity of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1981.  In 1984, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) responsible for this syndrome was discovered.

Infection with the HIV virus was found to predispose persons to opportunistic infections and cancers.  Epidemiologic investigations revealed the disease was transmitted sexually, by blood products, IV drug use, and from mother-to-child. Cases of AIDS exploded throughout the world in 1980s and 1990s. Millions upon millions have suffered and died. Efforts to control the disease have been hampered by prejudice against infected persons.  AIDS has become one of the greatest public health challenges in modern medicine.  Currently, about 33 million people are infected across the globe.    Efforts to develop vaccines against HIV have failed.  Nevertheless, in the last 15 years, combination antiretroviral therapy has transformed the treatment of HIV infection, converting a deadly disease into a chronic, manageable condition.  Analysis of the history of the HIV epidemic in the United States reveals the power of these drugs and also the deficiencies of drug therapy to combat this disease.

Dr. Gregory M. Anstead
Director, Immunosuppression and Infectious Diseases Clinics
South Texas Veterans Health Care System

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