In 1981, the first cases of what is now known as AIDs (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) emerged in California and New York. It manifested itself as a rare pneumonia (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia – PCP) in four previously healthy gay men in California, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma, an unusually aggressive cancer, amongst groups of men in New York. By the end of 1981, drug injectors were also exhibiting symptoms of PCP and, by 1982–83, it was now termed ‘AIDS’ and also found amongst the female partners of men with the disease, haemophiliacs requiring blood transfusions and the children of mothers carrying this new retrovirus. By the end of 1983, the number of AIDS cases in the USA was 3,064, of whom 1,292 had died. By 1984, the numbers infected had risen to 38,401 cases worldwide, with 31,741 of these in the Americas. Initially called ‘gay cancer’, it is now understood that AIDS can infect anyone.
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