Mission, History & Timeline

Our Mission: To stop the epidemic and related health inequities by eliminating new infections, maximizing healthier outcomes for those infected and at risk, and tackling the root causes of HIV/AIDS.

1981

In the June 5 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC reports a rare form of pneumonia in five gay men, which are later determined to be the first published cases of AIDS.

1982

CDC introduces the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, as a replacement for Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID).

1983

The AIDS Action Committee is founded – initially as a committee of the Fenway Community Health Center – to respond to the epidemic. AIDS Action remains the largest AIDS service organization in New England.

 

1984

With the isolation of HIV, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts an HIV vaccine will be available by 1990. This prediction proves to be overoptimistic.

 

1985

Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS, is barred from school, a case of stigma and discrimination that gains international media attention.

 

1986

The U.S. Surgeon General publishes his first report on AIDS, the government’s first major statement on what the nation should do to prevent the spread of HIV.

1987

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the first time.

1988

AIDS Action and its volunteers establish the HIV Treatment Education Library (now known as AIDS Action’s Health Library).

 

1989

Activists, clinicians, and consumers work together to form Community Research Initiative of New England (CRI). CRI becomes and remains a major national HIV research organization.

1993

Governor William Weld signs into law legislation allowing 10 pilot needle exchange programs to be established in Massachusetts.

 

1994

AIDS Action works to get an AIDS education curriculum and condoms into schools in Boston and 28 other school districts.

 

1996

Because the new HIV regimens involve many doses and pills each day, AIDS Action launches an adherence program to help people keep up with their HIV medication regimens.

 

1997

Number of AIDS deaths continues to fall, but reports of HIV combination treatment effects and adherence problems are on the rise.

 

 2000

Youth on Fire, a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth ages 14 to 24, opens in Harvard Square, Cambridge.

 

 2001

First Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is commemorated in the U.S.

 

 2002

OraQuick Rapid HIV test is approved, allowing HIV antibody testing in as little as 20 minutes using blood from a finger prick.

 

 2003

During his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush announces his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a five-year, $15 billion initiative to fight HIV/AIDS, primarily in Africa and the Caribbean.

 

 2004

First saliva-based rapid HIV test approved. 

 2005

TransCEND (Transgender Care and Education Needs Diversity) opens in Cambridge.

 

 2006

The 35th anniversary of the CDC’s first reported case of what would come to be known as HIV/AIDS. 

 

 2007

New UNAIDS statistics, based on new surveillance methods, estimate that 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS.

 

 2008

U.S. Congress reauthorizes PEPFAR for five years, while also voting to end the HIV travel and immigration ban.

 

 2008

U.S. Congress reauthorizes PEPFAR for five years, while also voting to end the HIV travel and immigration ban.

 

 2009

President Barack Obama calls for the U.S. to develop its first National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

 

 2010

Results from the iPrEX study indicate that pill-based pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – the use of daily antiretroviral drugs by uninfected persons – can reduce the risk of HIV infection.

2011: A landmark research study shows that putting healthy people living with HIV on antiretrovirals can limit their transmission of the virus by 96%. This strategy is called “treatment as prevention.”

 

 2014

UNAIDS establishes “90-90-90” HIV treatment targets to be achieved by 2020: to diagnose HIV in 90% of all people infected; to provide sustained HIV treatment to 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV; and to achieve viral suppression in 90% of all people receiving HIV treatment.