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

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

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A visitor sits on a bench to watch “In America: Remember” by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall, Washington, Saturday, October 2, 2021. AP Photo / José Luis Magana

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

  • Antiretroviral therapy has dramatically reduced HIV infections and deaths.

  • COVID-19 and HIV / AIDS have both had a disproportionate impact on minority communities.

COVID-19 has killed an estimated 750,000 Americans in the past two years, officially surpassing the number of lives lost to HIV / AIDS in the past four decades to become the nation’s deadliest pandemic.

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

Today, antiretroviral therapies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) are widely accepted due to their substantial reduction in HIV-related infections and deaths.

“The rapid and gradual development of antiretroviral therapy has not only proven to be life-saving for millions of people, but has also helped expose inequalities in access to health care between the rich and poor countries of the world,” wrote researchers for the scientific journal AIDS. .

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

Black and Latin people still represent a high percentage of new HIV infections while making up small portions of the total population. Gay men, bisexual men and transgender people of all races and ethnicities remain severely and disproportionately affected by the epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Likewise, CDC data shows that Blacks, Latinxes, Asians and Native Americans are at higher risk of infection, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Projections of COVID-19-related deaths, however, are much bleaker than those of HIV / AIDS.

The number of annual HIV infections has declined steadily in recent years, with a reduction of more than two-thirds since the epidemic peaked in the mid-1980s, according to HIV.gov. A 2019 CDC report found that about one million Americans over 13 are HIV positive and more than half are virally deleted or undetectable.

This means that with daily medication, people living with HIV can stay healthy and effectively have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to their partners, thereby reducing 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 recorded every day in the United States. Average daily deaths remain above 1,000 as of Oct. 29, according to data from the New York Times.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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