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.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham report a discovery of HIV-1 in a subspecies of chimpanzee. They believe this to be the source of the virus and theorize that human hunters contracted it when exposed to infected blood.
Initial findings from a joint Uganda-U.S. study identify a new drug regimen as an effective and affordable way to reduce mother-to-baby transmission of the virus.
The Clinton administration declares, for the first time, that AIDS is a threat to national security and to global stability.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson publicly takes an HIV test after the CDC reports that African-American and Hispanic infection rates have overtaken those of white gay men.
UNAIDS marks the 20th anniversary of the first report of HIV. Executive Director Peter Piot says, "At the time, I read the report with great interest, but I never imagined I was looking at the first sign of an epidemic, that in just 20 years would have infected 60 million people, killed 22 million and achieved the status of the most devastating epidemic in human history."
The FDA approves the first rapid HIV test, which produces results in less than 20 minutes. The test uses a finger prick to draw blood.