40 Years of Progress – It’s Time to End the HIV Epidemic

Leadership Statements

Message from the CDC Director

On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) described the first case of a rare pneumonia among five men in Los Angeles, California, marking the first official reporting of what would later become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Message from the DGHT Director

In late 1982, CDC used the term “AIDS” (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for the first time. Forty years later, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of more than 36 million people worldwide and today there are more than 38 million people living with HIV. Since this landmark publication, numerous studies and research have added to the body of knowledge on HIV prevention and treatment.

Engagement with and by communities, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector, and governments continues to inform the global response to HIV. In 2003, the United States launched the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment ever by any nation to address a single disease. With PEPFAR support, CDC is helping drive progress to control global HIV epidemics using targeted prevention, care, and treatment initiatives.

CDC provides technical expertise to help countries achieve ambitious global HIV epidemic control targets by 2030, which call for 95 percent of all people living with HIV to be aware of their status, 95 percent of those aware of their status to be placed on antiretroviral treatment, and 95 percent of those on treatment to achieve viral load suppression.

When PEPFAR started, only 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa were on HIV treatment. As of September 30, 2020, as part of PEPFAR, CDC supported antiretroviral treatment for 10.5 million people living with HIV – more than one third of all people on HIV treatment worldwide. Data from CDC-supported Population-based HIV Impact Assessments show that several African countries have achieved or are on the cusp of achieving HIV epidemic control targets. Today, the global community has the tools to control the HIV epidemic without a vaccine or a cure.

The global community must accelerate progress against HIV. To this end, efforts must continue to find the remaining undiagnosed HIV-positive individuals and rapidly link them to treatment. CDC continues to expand and enhance HIV programs for key and vulnerable populations – including adolescent girls and young women, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, and injection drug users – who are at greater risk for HIV infection. CDC supports community-based efforts to eliminate stigma, discrimination, and other inequities that are obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment, particularly for key and vulnerable populations.

To sustain epidemic control CDC supports highly resilient and adaptive approaches that are necessary to maintain community engagement, sustain viral suppression through HIV treatment, deliver client-centered HIV services, and focus resources where most needed and for greatest impact.

As we mark this somber milestone, CDC remains committed to ending the HIV epidemic worldwide. We need continued contributions and innovation from all sectors of society. Together we must reengage, continue to empower, and strengthen coordination with our partners for maximum and enduring impact. I thank you for your continued partnership in this fight and encourage you to continue your life-saving commitments to achieve HIV epidemic control.

Hank Tomlinson, Ph.D.
Director, CDC Division of Global HIV & TB (DGHT)

Estimated Annual Number of HIV Infections – United States, 1981-2019

On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) described the first cases of a rate pneumonia among five men in Los Angeles, California, marking the first official reporting of what would later become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In the 40 years since these initial cases were reported, we have witnessed the tragedy of approximately 700,000 lives lost in the United States. Simultaneously, we have also witnessed the triumph of HIV prevention and treatment bringing the number of new HIV infections to all-time lows both in the United States and around the world. Read More

Social Media Tools

Shareable social media graphics that highlight the burden of HIV, global progress to date, and CDC’s leadership to help end the epidemic.

PEPFAR

Visit the PEPFAR website to learn how PEPFAR and CDC are leading efforts to control the HIV epidemic worldwide.

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HIV Fact Sheet

An overview of CDC’s global efforts and return on investments in responding to one of the world’s greatest health threats.

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Page last reviewed: June 4, 2021, 04:27 PM