Contribution of HIV/AIDS to Global Blindness


The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) appears to have been transmitted from chimpanzees to humans in Central Africa.1 Human infections were probably sporadic until the 1970s, when rapid urbaniza-tion of the African interior led to regional epidemics. Intercontinental travel, along with widespread practices of unprotected sexual inter-course and intravenous drug abuse led, in turn, to rapid globalization of HIV infection in the late 1970s and early 1980s.2 The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) represents the advanced form of HIV infection, and was first reported in the United States in 1981.3 Dr Holland and colleagues4 reported the ocular manifestations of HIV in 1982. HIV itself was independently isolated by researchers in France and the United States, in 1983 and 1984, respectively.5,6 Since these early publications, an estimated 65 million persons have been infected with HIV/AIDS and the infection has claimed over 22 million lives worldwide, including 500,000 in the United States.

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