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30 Years of HIV/AIDS Commemoration

June 5, 2011, marks the 30th year since CDC reported the first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). From just five cases in the initial publication of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, AIDS has grown into a global pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of more than 33 million people around the world. It is estimated that over 1.7 million people in the United States have been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). To date, nearly 600,000 men, women, and children with HIV in the United States have died, and more than 1.1 million people are estimated to be living with the disease today.

Photo :A man and woman.Thirty years into the fight against HIV, we have changed the course of this deadly disease. HIV prevention has already saved countless lives—including some 350,000 in the United States alone. In the United States, new infections have fallen by more than two-thirds since the height of the epidemic. Globally, UNAIDS estimates that new infections have fallen by nearly 20% over the past 10 years. Although a cure for HIV has not been found, breakthroughs in HIV treatment in the mid-1990s have led to longer and healthier lives for people living with HIV and have resulted in dramatic declines in HIV-related deaths.

However, many challenges to stopping the HIV epidemic remain. HIV infection rates in the United States and around the world remain unacceptably high. Research has shown that, in addition to behavior, where people live, work, and play often influences their risk for disease. Domestically and globally, HIV infections are increasing among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. African Americans and Hispanics in the United States experience especially high rates of HIV infection.

CDC estimates that 1 in 5 people with HIV in the United States do not know that they are infected. Routine testing is recommended for all Americans aged 13–64 and those whose behavior puts them at increased risk should be tested at least once a year. A cure for HIV remains elusive, but timely HIV treatment reduces disease-related deaths and contributes to a higher quality of life for those affected by the illness.

Despite the benefits of HIV treatment and care, many people with HIV are not able to afford treatment or eventually drop out of medical care. Given these challenges, progress is being made and HIV treatment is available to a growing number of people around the world. UNAIDS estimates that the number of HIV-infected people who had access to HIV treatment increased from 700,000 in 2004 to 5.2 million in 2009.

In the United States, for the first time ever, HIV/AIDS efforts are led by a single, coordinated effort, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy [PDF - 1.2MB] (NHAS), announced in July 2010. There are three primary goals of the strategy, including reducing incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes and reducing HIV-related health disparities. Through key action steps and engagement with the public and stakeholders, the vision of NHAS will be achieved.

"The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination."

- Vision, National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Photo: A smiling manTo commemorate the 30 year marker of the HIV epidemic, we remember the men, women and children who have lost their lives to the disease and pay respect to the millions of people who are living with this disease today. CDC is hosting the 30 years of HIV/AIDS Online Community, the goal of which is to commemorate 30 years of HIV/AIDS by connecting everyone who has a story to share. We invite you to join, share your stories and photos, and help us in spreading this collective resource with others working in and living with HIV/AIDS.

Additionally, CDC will convene a series of moderated "conversations with leaders" describing defining moments that changed the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The series, CDC 30 Years of HIV/AIDS Lecture Series, will begin in early June 2011 and extend through the summer, culminating with a session at CDC's National HIV Prevention Conference on August 17, 2011. A compilation of the discussions will be available online and on DVD.

What Can You Do?

  • Learn About HIV/AIDS. Educate yourself, friends and family about HIV/AIDS and what you can do to protect yourself.
  • Get tested for HIV. To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, visit, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to Know IT (566948).
  • Speak Out against stigma, homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
  • Donate time and money to HIV/AIDS organizations that work to prevent the spread of disease and provide those infected with resources and care.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: June 3, 2011
  • Page last updated: June 3, 2011
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs