Congress passes the Ryan White Care Act shortly after the death of Ryan White, a heterosexual teen in Indiana who contracted HIV through hemophilia treatments. White was expelled from school in the mid-1980s because of prejudice, but his maturity and grace taught the country a lesson about those living with HIV.
Life magazine publishes a photo of AIDS victim David Kirby as he takes one of his last breaths. The photo by grad student Therese Frare haunts the nation and becomes a symbol of the epidemic in America.
Singer Paul Jabara starts the Red Ribbon Foundation, which begins distributing ribbons as a symbol of tolerance for those living with HIV/AIDS.
In June, the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus distributes red ribbons at the Tony Awards. Co-host Jeremy Irons becomes one of the first celebrities to wear one, creating a media stir.
In November, three-time NBA MVP Magic Johnson announces that he has HIV and will retire from the Lakers.
The movie "Philadelphia" is released starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. In the drama, a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, so he hires a homophobic lawyer to sue. The film makes more than $77 million at the domestic box office and is nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two.
The rock opera "Rent" opens off-Broadway in New York. The show is an adaption of Puccini's "La Boheme" but replaces the original's tragic illness with HIV. It earns rave reviews, heads to Broadway and goes on to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Elizabeth Glaser, wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser, loses her battle with AIDS, and her Pediatric AIDS Foundation is renamed. Glaser started the children's research foundation after she contracted HIV while giving birth. She unknowingly passed the virus on to her daughter through breast milk and her son Jake in utero.
The Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) is established by the United Nations. It combines experts from six agencies to fight the AIDS epidemic.
At the 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, combination antiretroviral treatment is presented for the first time. These drugs are shown to be effective against HIV.
Media outlets report that for the first time since the epidemic began, the AIDS death rate has declined in the U.S. thanks to the success of drug therapies.
The company AIDSvax starts the first human trial of an AIDS vaccine using 5,000 U.S. volunteers.
Doctors in San Francisco start a trial of post-exposure prevention, a method similar to Plan B in that it aims to prevent HIV after possible exposure before the virus takes hold.