Antiretroviral therapy has transformed HIV from a death sentence to a manageable chronic condition for many. Yet as the death of 41-year-old Broadway composer Michael Friedman this past Saturday reminds us, thousands of Americans still die every year from HIV/AIDS.
In 2014, the last year for which these data are available, 12,333 Americans with HIV died of any cause, and 6,721 of them died from causes directly attributable to HIV.
“AIDS has certainly not gone away,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. “At an average of 20 deaths a day, it’s something that’s occurring regularly.”
An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the disease, although about 15 percent of them don’t know they have it. But HIV/AIDS doesn’t draw the media attention it once did.
“We need to continue to be aware, continue to talk about it and continue to advocate for prevention and treatment resources,” Klausner said. The message from public health officials is clear: If you test positive for HIV, get into treatment right away. Taking antiretroviral medicines every day can bring HIV levels in a person’s body so low as to be almost undetectable, which drastically reduces the chances of passing the virus to someone else. Read more via HuffPost