The HIV/AIDS turnaround as been nothing short of stunning.
It’s one of the most deadly viruses known to man — but in recent years, it has made an amazing about-face that is unprecedented in the medical community.
Authorities first discovered the virus that causes AIDS just 34 years ago, and since then it has affected hundreds of millions of people — and on World AIDS Day, it’s a good chance to reflect on how amazingly far we’ve come in such a short time, according to an ABC News report.
The first known report on AIDS was published back in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after examining the cases of five men who had come down with an aggressive form of pneumonia that resulted in the deaths of two of them. Since their discovery, a total of 36.9 million people are believed to live with AIDS worldwide, with 1.2 million in the United States.
There are prominent figures today who live with HIV today and appear to have it under control, like former basketball great Magic Johnson. Public figures like him are beginning to reduce the stigma against people who have the disease, which was referred to as the “gay plague” back when it was discovered but now affects many people beyond the gay community.
HIV drugs have made incredible progress since the discovery of the disease, but people shouldn’t underestimate how deadly the virus remains. The CDC estimates it killed 13,712 people in 2012, and it remains a silent epidemic. Far from being eliminated, the disease continues to thrive, and there is still a long way to go before we can declare victory against it.
The problem is a lot of people don’t even realize they have the disease, with an estimated one in eight being unaware of their infection. Data indicates that since the 1980s, that percentage has been dropping, however.
And deaths from HIV have dropped significantly since peaking in 1995. The age-adjusted death rate from HIV has plummeted by a stunning 85 percent since then, peaking at close to 40 percent in 1995 and now sitting at less than 5 percent today.
In addition, new HIV infections have been declining, which they have been doing every year sine the mid 1990s, which further resulted in deaths related to AIDS beginning to decrease in the mid 2000s.