A Quarter Century of AIDS


Ron Stall
Thomas C. Mills


This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the first scientific description of the AIDS epidemic. Since the publication of the initial report describing 5 cases of an unknown disease, the epidemic has grown at an exponential rate. An estimated 40300000 people are living with HIV infection around the globe, of whom 4900000 were infected during the year 2005 alone. The explosive trends in the global epidemic have also occurred in the United States; an estimated 925000 to 1025000 HIV-seropositive persons resided within the United States in 2003. Unless we find ways to field effective AIDS prevention and treatment programs on a global basis, we will continue to stand witness as a dangerous epidemic spins out of control, with tragic repercussions for the rest of this new century. Here, we identify the most prominent attributes of AIDS—already evident at the quarter century milepost—that challenge the effective functioning of prevention and treatment efforts and identify some initial successes that may provide guidance for future advances in managing the epidemic.