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30-year anniversary of HIV/AIDS discovery

June 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It has been three decades since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus: 30 years of HIV and AIDS. A diagnosis used to be hopeless, but things have changed.

Thirty years ago this week researchers discovered the killer disease that became known as HIV/AIDS. No cure, no way to fight it -- only death was the outcome.

"In West Hollywood and in the surrounding neighborhoods it's estimated that we lost about 10,000 men and women to HIV during a 10-year period," said West Hollywood Mayor John Duran.

A gay pride flag flies next to the American flag in West Hollywood. At a news conference in West Hollywood there was a warning that AIDS is still a threat. It can be prevented. Medicine can help control it.

Businessman and former basketball great Magic Johnson lives a full life 20 years after being diagnosed with AIDS. He's one of 33 million people who live with HIV, a disease that's taken 25 million lives.

"I remember all of the people that we lost, our friends, our colleagues, our co-workers. It was a devastating, devastating time," said West Hollywood Councilman John Heilman.

Duran was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He came close to dying four times before new drugs were developed.

"Because of the protease inhibitors that arrived in '94-'95, I'm one of the lucky ones that didn't go over the cliff," said Duran.

One-point-two million Americans have HIV/AIDs. It's estimated that there are 40,000 new cases a year.

"With the medication nowadays in the United States people can pretty much lead a regular, normal life and they have normal life expectancy, hopefully," said Duran.

It may be difficult for a younger generation to believe that AIDS was once a death sentence. But now the difficulty is educating people. There's no room for complacency even if progress has been made. There is still no cure.

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