We do not know how many people developed AIDS in the 1970s, or indeed in the years before. We do now know that the origin of AIDS and the virus HIV was probably in Africa. What we also know is:

"The dominant feature of this first period was silence, for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was unknown and transmission was not accompanied by signs or symptoms
salient enough to be noticed. While rare, sporadic case reports of AIDS
and sero-archaeological studies have documented human infections with
HIV prior to 1970, available data suggest that the current pandemic
started in the mid- to late 1970s. By 1980, HIV had spread to at least
five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Africa and
Australia). During this period of silence, spread was unchecked by
awareness or any preventive action and approximately 100,000-300,000
persons may have been infected." - Jonathan Mann


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