On this day June 5, 1981

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that five people in Los Angeles, California have a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems, in what turns out to be the first recognized cases of AIDS.

In the beginning, the CDC did not have an official name for the disease, often referring to it by way of the diseases that were associated with it, for example, lymphadenopathy, the disease after which the discoverers of HIV originally named the virus.

They also used Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, the name by which a task force had been set up in 1981. In the general press, the term GRID, which stood for Gay-related immune deficiency, had been coined. The CDC, in search of a name, and looking at the infected communities coined “the 4H disease,” as it seemed to single out Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin users.

However, after determining that AIDS was not isolated to the homosexual community, the term GRID became misleading and AIDS was introduced at a meeting in July 1982. By September 1982 the CDC started using the name AIDS, and properly defined the illness.

A more controversial theory known as the OPV AIDS hypothesis suggests that the AIDS epidemic was inadvertently started in the late 1950s in the Belgian Congo by Hilary Koprowski’s research into a poliomyelitis vaccine. According to scientific consensus, this scenario is not supported by the available evidence.

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