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The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: The First 10 Years

On June 5, 1981, the first cases of an illness subsequently defined as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were reported by health-care providers in California and CDC (1). As of May 31, 1991, state and local health departments had reported to CDC 179,136 AIDS cases among persons of all ages in the United States. By the end of 1991, AIDS will be the second leading cause of death among men 25--44 years of age and is likely to be one of the five leading causes of death among women aged 15--44 years in the United States (2).

The World Health Organization estimates that 8--10 million adults and 1 million children worldwide are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the etiologic agent of AIDS. By the year 2000, 40 million persons may be infected with HIV (3). More than 90% of these persons will reside in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In addition, during the 1990s, mothers or both parents of more than 10 million children will have died from HIV infection/AIDS.

AIDS will remain a major public health challenge worldwide in the 21st century. Education of all persons about AIDS to prevent transmission of HIV infection is critical to controlling this problem. Reported by: Technical Information Activity, Div of HIV/AIDS, Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.


  1. CDC. Pneumocystis pneumonia---Los Angeles. MMWR 1981;30:250--2.

  2. CDC. Mortality attributable to HIV infection/AIDS---United States, 1981--1990. MMWR 1991;40:41--4.

  3. World Health Organization. In point of fact. Geneva: World Health Organization, May 1991 (no. 74).

*Single copies of this article will be available free until June 7, 1992, from the National AIDS Information Clearinghouse, P. O. Box 6003, Rockville, MD 20850; telephone (800) 458-5231.

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