Science AIDS virus formally recognized and announced (HIV/AIDS)


Staff member
History Date
May 1, 1981
On June 5, 1981, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) publishes an article in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Pneumocystis Pneumonia—Los Angeles. The article describes cases of a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia(PCP), in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles immunologist Dr. Michael Gottlieb, CDC’s Dr. Wayne Shandera, and their colleagues report that all the men have other unusual infections as well, indicating that their immune systems are not working.

Two have already died by the time the report is published and the others will die soon after. This edition of the MMWR marks the first official reporting of what will later become known as the AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) epidemic.

Referred to as "gay cancer" by the media for its rapid spread through the LGBQT communities, the September 24, 1982, MMWR report by the CDC uses the term “AIDS” (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for the first time. The CDC's first case definition for AIDS: “A disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease.”