Timeline of early HIV/AIDS cases
This article is a timeline of early AIDS cases.
An AIDS case is classified as "early" if the death occurred before 18 June 1981, when the AIDS epidemic was formally recognized by medical professionals in the United States.
1959 – 1960
Until 2008, the earliest known sample of HIV-1 was from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (formerly Zaïre, formerly Belgian Congo). The sample, named ZR59, was isolated from tissues collected from "a Bantu male" in 1959 and was found with retrospective genetic analysis to be most closely related to subtype D strains. In 2008, partial HIV viral sequences were identified from a specimen of lymph node collected from an adult female in Kinshasa, DRC in 1960. This specimen, named DRC60, was around 88% similar to ZR59, but was found to be most closely related to subtype A HIV-1 strains. These specimens are significant not only because they are the oldest specimens of the virus known to cause AIDS, but because they show that the virus already had an extensive amount of genetic diversity in 1960. This suggests the virus had been circulating for years or perhaps decades in the Kinshasa population.
Notable potential individual cases of AIDS from this period include:
David Carr: (Contested, see below.) A Manchester printer (sometimes mistakenly referred to as a sailor) who died in October 1959 following the failure of his immune system; he succumbed to pneumonia. Doctors, baffled by what he had died from, preserved 50 of his tissue samples for inspection. In 1990, the tissues were found to be HIV-positive. However, in 1992, a second test by AIDS researcher David Ho found that the strain of HIV present in the tissues was similar to those found in the late 1980s rather than an earlier strain (which would have mutated considerably over the course of 30 years). Ho's discovery has cast doubt on David Carr's death being caused by AIDS.
Ardouin Antonio, a 49-year-old Jamaican from Haiti, has been identified as a possible early AIDS case. Antonio had emigrated to the United States in 1927, and at the time of death was working as a shipping clerk for a garment manufacturer in Manhattan. He developed similar symptoms to David Carr's, and died on June 28, 1959, apparently of the same very rare kind of pneumonia as Carr. Many years later, Dr. Gordon R. Hennigar, who had performed Antonio's autopsy, was asked whether he thought his patient had died of AIDS; he replied "You bet ... It was so unusual at the time. Lord knows how many cases of AIDS have been autopsied that we didn't even know had AIDS. I think it's such a strong possibility that I've often thought about getting them to send me the tissue samples."
Arvid Noe: A Norwegian sailor and truck driver, who was probably infected in Cameroon some time between 1961 and 1965, and died in 1976. Tissues of Noe, his wife and daughter all tested positive for HIV in an epidemiology study in 1988.
Grethe Rask: A Danish surgeon who traveled to Zaïre in 1972 to aid the sick. She was likely directly exposed to blood from many Congolese patients, one of whom infected her. She returned to Denmark in late 1976, with her colleagues baffled by her symptoms. She died in December 1977. Her tissues were examined and tested positive by her colleagues in 1984.
Senhor José (English: Mr. Joseph): A Portuguese man who is the first confirmed case of HIV-2. He was believed to have been exposed to the disease in Guinea-Bissau in 1966. He was treated at the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases by Professor Anthony Bryceson until finally succumbing to the disease in 1978.
Herbert Heinrich: Bisexual German concert violinist, who died in 1979. Tests in 1989 found that he was HIV-positive, and there has been speculation that he was infected by a prostitute who was infected by Noe, but as of 1997, this had not been proven.
- Worobey, Michael; Gemmel, Marlea; Teuwen, Dirk E.; Haselkorn, Tamara; Kunstman, Kevin; Bunce, Michael; Muyembe, Jean-Jacques; Kabongo, Jean-Marie M. et al. (2008). "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960". Nature 455 (7213): 661–4. Bibcode:2008Natur.455..661W. doi:10.1038/nature07390. PMID 18833279.
- Worobey M, Gemmel M, Teuwen DE, Haselkorn T, Kunstman K, Bunce M, Muyembe JJ, Kabongo JM, Kalengayi RM, Van Marck E, Gilbert MT, Wolinsky SM. Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960. Nature. 2008 Oct 2;455(7213):661-4.
- Connor, Steve (24 March 1995). "How scientists discovered false evidence on the world's "first AIDS victim"". The Independent. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- Chicago Tribune How Long Has Virus Been Stalking Victims? 25 October 1987 retrieved 15 May 2008
- Kolata, Gina (28 October 1987). "Boy's 1969 Death Suggests AIDS Invaded U.S. Several Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2009.
- Frøland, S.S., et al. "HIV-1 Infection in Norwegian Family before 1970". The Lancet. 11 June 1988. Pp. 1344–1345
- Hooper, Edward, Sailors and star-bursts, and the arrival of HIV, from the British Medical Journal, 1997
- Cribb, Julian, The White Death, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1996