It is exactly 30 years since mankind became aware of the cause of AIDS, a retrovirus known as HIV which was so cunning that even after 30 years we are still to find a vaccine for the scourge of the 21st century.
When Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute had triumphantly announced the causative pathogen of AIDS and hinted that a new process to mass produce the virus has been developed, experts had opined that the vaccine for the disease will be available within 2 years. It is 30 years and we still don’t have one.
The quest for an effective vaccine is still going on but advances in treating the infection has led to a steep fall in AIDS deaths. According to latest data provided by CDC there are 1,148,200 Americans who are living with HIV infection. Since the discovery of the HIV virus 30 years ago, more than 636,000 Americans have succumbed to the disease.
It was Margaret Heckler, President Ronald Reagan’s Health and Human Services Secretary, who in a hastily arranged press conference declared the discovery of the virus. The press conference was full of blunders galore with Ms Heckler claimed credit for something which was at least partially discovered by French. She also boasted that the vaccine will be ready in 2 years. However the enormity of the announcement was not undone and the disease, which went on to be described as the scourge of 21st century plagued mankind and still there is no complete cure in sight. The AIDS epidemic sparked a social and scientific revolution and we are still playing it out today.