for Health Care Providers
A History of HIV/AIDS
On June 5, 1981, the first cases of AIDS were reported in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR). VA has been part of the fight against AIDS since the beginning, seeing some of the first patients that year, and providing compassionate, expert care ever since. What follows are perspectives from those who participated in these events, either as providers or as patients.
In the early years of the epidemic, a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS had very limited treatment options and a much shortened life expectancy. Today, with advances in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), treatment can be as simple as one pill once a day. When Veterans with HIV are diagnosed with HIV early, they can be started on life-saving treatment that ensures they live long, healthy lives. We must continue to focus our efforts to reduce the number of new HIV infections through prevention and routine HIV testing. VA recommends that every Veteran patient be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime.
Letters written by VA providers and Veterans who were on the front-line of the epidemic. These were published in 2011, as part of a national campaign recognizing 30 years of progress in HIV/AIDS treatment and care.
- Mark A. Beilke, MD
Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Janet Gearin, RN
Clinical Nurse Specialist in Behavioral Medicine Service at the VA CBOC in Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Matthew Goetz, MD
Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Clinical AIDS/HIV Program at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
- David Rimland, MD
Chief of Infectious Diseases and Director of the HIV Program at the VA Medical Center, Atlanta
- Paul Volberding, MD
Chief of the medical service at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and principal investigator and co-director of UCSF's Center for AIDS Research