Over the past four decades, HIV / AIDS has killed at least 700,000 Americans. COVID-19 has killed several in two years.

A visitor sits on a bench to watch artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenbergs

A visitor sits on a bench to watch artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember”, a temporary art installation consisting of white flags commemorating Americans who died of COVID-19, at the National Mall, in Washington, Saturday, October 2, 2021. Photo from AP / Jose Luis Magana

  • In the United States, more than 700,000 people have died of HIV-related illness since 1981.

  • Antiretroviral therapies have significantly reduced HIV-related infections and deaths.

  • Both COVID-19 and HIV / AIDS have disproportionately affected minority communities.

COVID-19 has killed approximately 750,000 Americans over the past two years, and has officially surpassed the number of lives lost due to HIV / AIDS over the past four decades to become the country’s deadliest pandemic.

Recent data from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation showed that more than 700,000 people have died of HIV-related illness since its emergence in the United States in 1981. Highly effective antiretroviral therapies were developed during the 1990s, making HIV / AIDS a leader. cause of death in young adults in a “chronically manageable condition,” according to peer-reviewed scientific journal AIDS.

Today, antiretroviral therapies such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) are widely accepted due to their significant reduction in HIV-related infections and deaths.

“The rapid and progressive development of antiretroviral therapy has not only proven to be life-saving for many millions, but has been instrumental in uncovering health inequalities between rich and poor countries in the world,” researchers wrote for the scientific journal AIDS. . .

Despite their different transmission and mortality rates, the negative outcomes of both COVID-19 and HIV / AIDS have been borne disproportionately by minority communities.

Black and Latinx individuals still account for large percentages of new HIV infections, while representing small sections of the total population. Homosexual men, bisexual men, and transgender individuals of all races and ethnicities remain severely and disproportionately affected by the epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Similarly, CDC data show that black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death.

However, projections for COVID-19-related deaths are far more bleak than for HIV / AIDS.

The number of annual HIV infections has steadily declined over the past many years, with a reduction of more than two-thirds since the peak of the epidemic in the mid-1980s, according to HIV.gov. A 2019 CDC report showed that approximately one million Americans over the age of 13 have HIV, and more than half are virally repressed or undetected.

This means that people living with HIV, with daily medication can stay healthy and actually have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to partners, which ultimately reduces the number of deaths.

In 2019, there were a total of 15,815 deaths among adults and adolescents diagnosed with HIV in the United States, according to HIV.gov.

In contrast, tens of thousands of new COVID-19 infections are still being detected every day in the United States. Daily average deaths remain above 1,000 on October 29, according to New York Times data.

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