About HIV & AIDS

a timeline

HIV/AIDS: A Brief Timeline


While 1981 is generally referred to as the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, scientists believe that HIV was present years before the first case was brought to public attention.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports first cases of rare pneumonia, and highly unusual occurrence of rare skin cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma in young gay men, later determined to be AIDS. This marks the official beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

New York Times publishes its first news story on AIDS on July 3, 1981.

The first case of this illness is identified in Sonoma County.

By the end of the year, 121 people are known to have died from the disease.


“GRID” or “gay-related immune deficiency” increasingly used by the media and health care professionals, mistakenly suggesting an inherent link between homosexuality and the syndrome.

CDC reports a cluster of opportunistic infections (OI) and Kaposi’s sarcoma among Haitians recently entering the United States.

CDC formally establishes the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); refers to four “identified risk factors” of male homosexuality, intravenous drug abuse, Haitian origin and hemophilia A.

A baby in California becomes ill in the first known case of AIDS from a blood transfusion.

City and County of San Francisco, working closely with San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Shanti Project and others, develops the “San Francisco Model of Care,” which emphasizes home and community-based services.

Sonoma County has two cases of AIDS; one has died.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 1982: 466


The CDC warns blood banks of a possible problem with the national blood supply; gay men and intravenous drug users are urged to stop donating blood.

The virus that causes AIDS is isolated simultaneously by the Pasteur Institute in France (who calls it LAV) and the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. (who calls it HTLV3). A 3-year legal battle ensues over who discovered it first, and in 1986 it is officially named HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Safer sex guidelines are proposed.

A small group of dedicated individuals in Guerneville form the River AIDS Support Group to help friends and loved ones who are ill and dying. They file for nonprofit status. The group will later change its name to Face to Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 1983: 1,511.

Sonoma County now has nine people diagnosed with AIDS; five have died.


U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announces at a press conference that an American scientist, Dr. Robert Gallo, has discovered the probable cause of AIDS: the retrovirus subsequently named human immunodeficiency virus or HIV in 1986. She also declares that a vaccine will be available within two years.

The transmission modes of HIV are identified. San Francisco closes bathhouses.

The first fundraiser for Face to Face is a rummage sale which nets $1,500.

The first group of Face to Face volunteers is trained to provide emotional support and practical care.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 1984: 3,526.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has risen to 29 people, 16 of them have died.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first HIV test for the public. Confidential testing is adopted nationwide.

Blood banks begin screening the blood supply for HIV.

14-year-old Ryan White is barred from attending public school in Indiana. He is a hemophiliac with AIDS. For the remaining four and a half years of his life he speaks out against AIDS-related discrimination.

Face to Face hires its first staff member, Carol Owens, Director of Client Services.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 1985: 6,996.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has risen to 53 people; 34 have died.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is adopted as name of the retrovirus that was first proposed as the cause of AIDS by Luc Montagnier of France, who named it LAV (lymphadenopathy associated virus) and Robert Gallo of the United States, who named it HTLV-III (human T-lymphotropic virus type III)

U.S. Surgeon General Koop urges wide-spread use of condoms and calls for AIDS education for children of all ages.

President Reagan finally mentions the word AIDS in response to reporters’ questions.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has risen to 66.

Known U.S. deaths in 1986: 12,183.


AZT becomes the first drug approved to specifically fight HIV.  A one-year supply costs $10,000, making it the most expensive drug in history.

The American Medical Association (AMA) rules that doctors are obligated to provide treatment for people with AIDS.

Human trials of an anti-HIV vaccine begin.

The U.S. bans all immigrants and travelers with HIV. (Because of this, no international AIDS conference is ever held here.)

The FDA provides guidance to manufacturers for the labeling of condoms in the prevention of HIV.

AIDS is the first disease ever debated on the floor of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, where they resolve to mobilize the entire UN system in the worldwide struggle against AIDS.

Radical AIDS activist group ACT UP is founded in New York.

A study proves that HIV is not transmitted by casual contact.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is started in San Francisco.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors creates the Sonoma County Commission on AIDS and allocates $20,000 to Face to Face.

Face to Face Board of Directors hires Sharon Tomas as its first Executive Director.

A fundraiser is held in honor of Dr. Marshall Kubota, a pioneer in HIV/AIDS care and treatment in Sonoma County, and raises an unprecedented $20,000 for Face to Face.

Known U.S. deaths in 1987: 16,488.

A total of 100 people diagnosed with AIDS in Sonoma County have died since the beginning of the epidemic.


A large increase in the number of women and intravenous drug users contracting HIV is reported.

It is estimated that 1,000,000 Americans are HIV+; 10,000,000 are estimated to be HIV+ worldwide.

The Red Ribbon campaign becomes an international symbol of AIDS awareness.

Face to Face forms a Speakers’ Bureau, training people with HIV to make classroom presentations on AIDS throughout Sonoma County.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has risen to 727 people; 430 have died.

Magic Johnson tells the world he has HIV.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1991: 37,106.


Bill Clinton is elected President and promises full funding of the Ryan White CARE Act, additional HIV prevention activities and an increase in the HIV research budget.

The first combination drug therapies for HIV are introduced. Such “cocktails” are more effective than AZT alone and slow down the development of drug resistance.

Face to Face opens Henry House, named for volunteer/client, Robert Henry, as the first licensed Residential Care Facility in California for people with AIDS.

The Face to Face annual budget grows to over $1 million.

A total of 536 people diagnosed with AIDS in Sonoma County have died since the beginning of the epidemic.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 1992: 41,849.


It is reported that some AIDS patients start to show signs of resistance to AZT.

The CDC expands the definition of AIDS to include new conditions: invasive cervical cancer in women, T-cell counts less than 200, and other conditions.

Sexual transmission surpasses injection drug use as the leading cause of HIV infection among women.

A federal government study shows that giving clean needles to addicts helps prevent the spread of AIDS.

AIDS is the leading cause of death for young adults in 64 U.S. cities.

The cumulative number of people diagnosed with AIDS in Sonoma County surpasses 1100;  649 people have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1993: 45,733.


The FDA approves AZT for in preventing transmission of HIV from infected pregnant women to their babies.

Saquinavir, a new type of protease inhibitor drug, becomes available to treat HIV. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) becomes possible. Within two years, death rates due to AIDS will have plummeted in the developed world.

The FDA approves OraSure, the first non-blood based collection kit using saliva to detect the antibodies to HIV.

The CDC launches a series of 13 bold and frank AIDS advertisements breaking away from their previous low-key approach, focusing on the use of condoms.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has grown to 1241 people; 757 have died.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1994: 50,657.


The FDA approves a new class of drug, protease inhibitors, for use in combination with other AIDS drugs.

HIV disease becomes the leading cause of death of Americans between 25 and 44 years of age.

Greg Louganis reveals he has HIV.

Sonoma County receives Federal Ryan White funding for the first time.

The first Gay Latino HIV support group is formed in Sonoma County by Face to Face.

Face to Face forms a teen outreach program.

The “Art for Life” Auction raises more than $75,000 for Face to Face.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has grown to 1386 people; 865 have died.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1995: 51,414.


Face to Face’s annual budget grows to its highest point, $2,193,763.

Face to Face has 55 staff members (including on-call Henry House workers).

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has grown to 1479 people; 935 have died.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1996: 38,074.

There have been 6.4 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide, 3 million new infections this year alone.


For the first time, AIDS deaths drop 19% in the United States. The change is attributed to antiretroviral therapy.

Face to Face’s HIV+ Speakers’ Bureau gives hundreds of presentations to thousands of people in Sonoma County.

The first of many governmental funding cuts begins reducing Face to Face’s annual budget.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has risen to 1535 people; 961 have died.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1997: 21,846.


The FDA authorizes the world’s first full-scale test of a vaccine to prevent HIV which eventually proves unsuccessful.

The MANfest community-building outreach program is launched by Face to Face and reaches over 650 gay men with HIV prevention messages in its first year.

Continued government funding cuts reduce the Face to Face annual budget by $200,000. Face to Face implements staff furlough days and lay-offs to survive budget cuts.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases diagnosed in Sonoma County has grown to 1603 people; 991 have died.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1998: 19,005


“Sacks on the Square,” a thrift store, is opened in Santa Rosa as a collaborative fundraising venture between Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Face to Face.

Significant funding cuts continue to trim the Face to Face annual budget. Staff furlough days continue in order to balance the budget.

The cumulative number of people in Sonoma County who have died of AIDS surpasses 1000; 1603 people have been diagnosed with AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic.

Known deaths in U.S. in 1999: 18,491.


The “Art for Life” Auction raises a record $151,000, bringing the total “Art for Life” funds raised for Face to Face to over $1,000,000.

The first (HIV) Positive Women’s Group is started by Face to Face.

Two new prevention groups are started by Face to Face, one for young gay men and one for young gay Latino men.

The CDC reports that the rate of AIDS diagnoses among Black and Hispanic gay men has overtaken that among white gay men in U.S. Also, African Americans comprised 57% of new HIV infections, even though they are only 13% of US population.

Known deaths in U.S. in 2000: 17,139.


Tom Lindsay is hired as Executive Director.

Face to Face launches a peer-based education and outreach program for migrant farmworkers.

The post-9/11 financial drain on charitable giving affects donations, forcing lay-offs and seriously compromising Face to Face’s Education and Volunteer departments. Positions are cut and management take salary cuts of 20%.

Face to Face’s Latino Case Management program begins.


Tom Lindsay leaves, and Rick Dean, a 15-year employee, is selected as Executive Director.

Henry House in transitioned from licensed facility to group home for independent clients.

Thanks to protease inhibitors, people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Programs to assist them in coping with this begin appearing.

Face to Face staff is trained in and sponsors a new Positive Self-Management Program for clients. This workshop helps people living with chronic medical conditions better manage their own health issues.

Sonoma County HIV service providers start the L.I.F.E. program (Learning Immune Function Enhancement), learned and brought here from Shanti in San Francisco. L.I.F.E. is a 17-week health education, peer support program focusing on alternative ways to improve immune function and awareness or factors that affect immunity, adherence and risk behavior.

As of the end of 2002, an estimated 42 million people worldwide – 38.6 million adults and 3.2 million children younger than 15 years – were living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately 70 percent of these people (29.4 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 17 percent (7.2 million) live in Asia.

Known deaths in U.S. in 2002: 17,318.


The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that the failure to deliver treatment to nearly six million people with HIV/AIDS in developing countries was a global public health emergency. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 4.1 million people were infected, and just over 1% of these had access to antiretroviral treatment.

It was estimated that every day in 2003, around 14,000 people became infected with HIV and around the world, 40 million, including 2.5 million children, were living with HIV/AIDS.

Face to Face served 713 individuals with case management. 38% are from Guerneville, 62% from Santa Rosa. 46 of our clients are women, 54 are Latinos.

As the number of monolingual Spanish-speaking clients triples, Face to Face expands its bilingual care services.

Face to Face turns 20.

Known deaths in the U.S. in 2003: 18,020.


The Prevention department reels from a 72% cut in prevention funding.

Higher caseloads force case management programs to restructure.

Rick Dean elected chair of Sonoma County Commission on AIDS.

Sacks on the Square thrift store nets $45,000 for both Face to Face and Memorial Hospice.

The “Reconnect” philosophy of client case management evolves. As clients live longer, service providers see a need to focus clients on advocating and taking action for themselves. Providers provide support and encouragement for clients to make their own appointments, be responsible for referral follow-up, even make social connections or pursue education or employment opportunities.

Sonoma County Commission on AIDS offers the first AIDS Leadership Academy. This course helps people living with HIV to gain the confidence, experience and skills they need to become active in their community at a variety of levels. Graduates volunteer on the AIDS commission and local agency boards as well as do grass-roots advocacy on their own.

Latino clients increase by 43%.


The CDC calculated that more than one million Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2003, of whom 47% were black. It is estimated that one in four HIV-positive people do not know they are infected.

A highly resistant strain of HIV linked to rapid progression to AIDS is identified in New York City.


The first one-a-day pill for effectively treating HIV infection was approved for sale in the U.S. The advent of once-daily treatment represented great progress; people with HIV previously had to take several pills every few hours.

The CDC issued new guidelines recommending routine HIV testing for all adults and adolescents attending healthcare services. Routine testing had already proved highly successful in identifying HIV among pregnant women.

With clients living longer, the emotional support volunteer concept is replaced by a peer coaching program to help clients achieve life goals.

Positive Connections group begins in Sonoma County, a semi-monthly social and educational forum promoting a safe environment in which those living with HIV can connect. Discussions revolve around life issues, empowering people with skills and tools to re-imagine their futures, nurture self-esteem, promote independence, and realize personal satisfaction.


The first case of someone being cured of HIV. A San Francisco man infected with leukemia and HIV is cured from HIV due to his bone marrow transplant in Germany. Other similar cases begin being studied to confirm what is believed to be similar results.

A major HIV vaccine trial carried out in the U.S. and South Africa had to be halted after initial results showed the vaccine to be ineffective.

An estimated 2.1 million people died of AIDS in 2007, down from around 2.3 million in 2005. UNAIDS urged for the new statistics not be taken as an excuse to become complacent, or cut funding for AIDS.

CDC reports that more than 565,000 have died of AIDS in the U.S. since 1981.


CDC releases new domestic HIV incidence estimates that are substantially higher than previous estimates (56,300 new infections per year vs. 40,000). The new estimates do not represent an actual increase in the numbers of HIV infections, but reflect a more accurate way of measuring new infections. A separate analysis suggests that the annual number of new infections was never as low as 40,000 and that it has been roughly stable since the late 1990s.

Government funding for HIV prevention ends including staffing, condoms, and informational materials. Face to Face utilizes volunteers and its own funds to continue limited prevention efforts.


Newly elected President Obama calls for the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.

The Obama Administration officially lifts HIV travel and immigration ban by removing the final regulatory barriers to entry, to take effect in January 2010. Leads to announcement that the International AIDS Conference will return to the United States for the first time in more than 20 years, and will be held in Washington, DC in 2012.

U.S. Congress eliminates long-standing statutory ban on the use of federal funding for needle exchange in the United States.

The County of Sonoma closes HIV clinic and medical care transitions to local community clinics, including medical case management services previously at Face to Face.

Face to Face reorganizes, and reduces staff due to funding cuts and medical care shift.

Face to Face restarts Speakers’ Bureau, trains volunteers to make presentations in local schools at no charge.

HIV Service Providers Coalition created by Face to Face to foster collaboration and communication between local organizations.


Federal government ends grandfathered status of major Ryan White funding for Sonoma County. Only medical services will continued to be funded.

President Obama presents the first-ever National AIDS Strategy, a comprehensive and coordinated set of goals and measurable targets for HIV care and prevention.

The travel ban preventing HIV-positive people from entering the USA was lifted.

President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which expands access to care and prevention for all Americans—but offers special protections for those living with chronic illnesses, like HIV, that previously made it difficult for them to access or afford healthcare due to pre-existing conditions.

HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS) grant awarded to Face to Face, increasing the agency’s ability to provide a full array of housing support assistance.

Face to Face begins HIV testing in collaboration with Drug Abuse Alternative Center.

AIDS Emergency Fund now administered by Face to Face along with other financial assistance programs.

Last client leaves Henry House. Need for residential hospice has ended.

Face to Face offers LIFE program in Sonoma County


Confirmation of the first patient cured of HIV.

The FDA approved the second all-in-one fixed-dose combination tablet, expanding the simplified treatment options available for people living with HIV.

Henry House transferred to a local mental health agency for housing a new population.


In July 2012, the FDA approved PrEP for HIV-negative people to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.
WHO/HHS issues new HIV treatment guidelines recommending treatment for all HIV-infected adults and adolescents, regardless of CD4 count or viral load.

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post release a joint survey of the American public’s attitudes, awareness, and experiences related to HIV and AIDS. The survey finds that roughly a quarter of Americans do not know that HIV cannot be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass—almost exactly the same share as in 1987.
Free HIV testing is expanded to full office hours.

Face to Face’s mission statement is changed to “Improving the lives of people affected by HIV and eliminating new infections” to align with the national AIDS Strategy.

Face to Face’s Executive Director, Rick Dean, is awarded the Jefferson Award for his excellence in community leadership and civic engagement.


An estimated 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide.


UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 targets which aim for 90% of people living with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed to be accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90% of those accessing treatment to achieve viral suppression by 2020.

Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act designed to protect consumers go into effect. Insurers are now barred from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions, and they can no longer impose annual limits on coverage—both key advances for people living with HIV/AIDS.

European researchers announce the results of the first phase of the PARTNER Study, an observational study focusing on the risk of sexual HIV transmission when an HIV-positive person is on treatment. The study found that no HIV-positive partner who was undergoing antiretroviral therapy and had an undetectable viral load had transmitted HIV.

The Pew Charitable Trust reports that southern states are now the epicenter of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.


CDC announces that more than 90% of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by diagnosing people living with HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.

Researchers report that antiretroviral therapy is highly effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV from a person living with HIV to an uninfected heterosexual partner, when the HIV-positive partner is virally suppressed. The finding comes from the decade-long HPTN 052 clinical trial.

The White House launches the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020. The updated Strategy retains the vision and goals of the original but reflects scientific advances, transformations in healthcare access as a result of the
Affordable Care Act, and a renewed emphasis on key populations, geographic areas, and practices necessary to end the domestic HIV epidemic.

Partly in response to the HIV outbreak in Indiana, which is linked to injection drug use, Congress modifies restrictions that prevented states and localities from spending federal funds for needle exchange programs.

FDA announces it will lift its 30-year-old ban on all blood donations by men who have sex with men and institute a policy that allows them to donate blood if they have not had sexual contact with another man in the previous 12 months.


The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the National Institute of Mental Health cohost a meeting to address the issue of HIV stigma: Translating Research to Action: Reducing HIV Stigma to Optimize HIV Outcomes. Participants include researchers, policymakers, legal scholars, faith leaders, advocates, and people living with HIV.


Organizations around the world endorse “Undetectable = Untransmittable”(U=U). This anti-stigma slogan launched by the Prevention Access Campaign is based on robust scientific evidence that people who have adhered to treatment and achieved an undetectable viral load cannot pass the virus on. In 2017 ‘U=U’ becomes a defining message of the HIV response in many well-resourced countries.

With the support of the public health community, California governor Jerry Brown signs a bill decreasing the penalty for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV or donating blood without disclosing the infection from a felony to a misdemeanor./


At the 2019 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), researchers announce the second cure of a person with HIV. Like the 2007 case of the “Berlin Patient ” (the first person to be cured of HIV), the “London Patient” has no detectable HIV infection three years after he received a bone marrow transplant from a donor who is genetically immune to HIV, despite having been off antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 18 months. Both patients received bone marrow transplants to treat cancer. While the treatment is too dangerous and costly for widespread use, researchers hail the news as further proof that HIV can be cured.

Researchers continue working toward a preventive HIV vaccine. While the FDA has yet to approve any vaccines, clinical trials are ongoing.

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