This past June marked a significant milestone for the bleeding disorders community. Forty years ago, on June 5, 1981, the CDC first reported a rare cancer found in five homosexual men in their Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report. These were the first reported cases of what would come to be known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In early 1982, the first case of HIV was found in a child with hemophilia. HIV was present in most of the available products used at the time. Patients were unknowingly being infected by the very treatment used to improve their health and well being. Over the course of the next few years, the community experienced devastating losses. In total, 5,000 hemophilia patients were infected with HIV, and about 4,000 died tragically before changes were made to ensure products to treat bleeding disorders were made safe.
Today, about 1.2 million Americans live with HIV, an globally that number is quickly approaching 38 million. While effective prevention and treatment options do now exist, they are not available everywhere in the world where patients are at greater risk. As we commemorate 40 years of living with HIV as a society, we remind ourselves that we can learn from the years of loss and devastation. While HIV is no longer an absolute death sentence, we understand the need to address health disparities, stigma, and unequal distribution of resources that have plagued the way we care for all people at risk of and living with HIV.
Source: National Hemophilia Foundation