A Visual Journey: How HIV/AIDS Became a Treatable Disease

A Visual Journey: How HIV/AIDS Became a Treatable Disease

07.17.14 | By Jennifer Wall

When doctors first began reporting HIV/AIDS cases in the early 1980s there were few effective options that could help combat or manage the deadly disease. As a result, the condition was quickly dubbed a near-certain death sentence.

Between 1990 and 1995, HIV/AIDS-related deaths increased by a staggering 59 percent. The lack of an effective treatment option not only left patients hopeless, it also put a significant burden on the economy. Then in 1995, the outlook for millions of patients changed as the first protease inhibitors were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The death rate from HIV/AIDS decreased 67 percent over the next few years and, by 2012, the U.S. death rate had dropped to 83 percent.

Thanks to the work of biopharmaceutical scientists, the disease is no longer a death sentence and the costs are now manageable.

The good news is that today, a 20-year-old diagnosed with HIV can expect to live a long and full life. In fact, advances in treatment options have revolutionized what it means to live with HIV/AIDS.  For two famous athletes, Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson, the short time between their diagnoses was the difference between respectively succumbing to AIDS-related pneumonia at 50-years-old and anticipating a full life expectancy.

As we continue our march forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS, you should know that biopharmaceutical research companies continue to work on more than 70 potential new medicines and vaccines.  These potential treatments will continue to forge a path toward hope and progress in the great battle against disease. 

As the 20th International AIDS Conference begins next week, we’ve developed this infographic to commemorate some of the medical innovation milestones in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Please share it with anyone who might be interested in learning about this journey. We also welcome your thoughts and observations about the work that remains to be done. If the recent past is any indication, the future is incredibly bright in understanding, treating and hopefully one day curing HIV/AIDS for tens of millions of patients and families living with it. 

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