The Fight Against AIDS

The struggle around HIV/AIDS in the United States is an important part of our history. Reflecting on our past helps to show how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Life expectancy before HIV treatment was incredibly low, just 10-12 years of life after diagnosis. Now, people are living longer after diagnosis and life expectancy can reach the early 70s. Deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2014 were down 76% from peak rates in 1995. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis was the first provider of treatment and opened its doors in 1982. Currently, treatment centers can be found across the country. Early prevention was solely safe sex practices, while current medicine, PEP and PrEP, increase protection and decrease chances of transmission. Groups like ACT UP and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation were and continue to be an important part of the continuing fight to recognize and eliminate HIV.

The Reunion Project on November 23 is an event for people who identify as long-term survivors of HIV and is a reflection of our past, current experience, and the exciting current developments and innovations. There will be community, fun raffles and activities, food, and more! Register at

An infographic titled The Fight Against AIDS

Two columns labeled Then and Now

Then: Before treatments became available in the 1990s, life expectancy for HIV-positive people in the U.S. was 10 to 20 years after diagnosis

Now: With improvements in treatment, life expectancy is now in the early 70s for some groups. It is lower for other groups, such as nonwhites and those with a history of drug use or a weaker immune system.

Then: In the mid-1990s, people with HIV/AIDS took a complicated regimen of up to 20 pills per day to treat the disease.

Now: Medical advances made treatments more effective so that today, most people with HIV/AIDS take just one pill per day

Then: In 1995, more than 48,000 people died at the peak of the epidemic in the U.S., making it the leading cause of death among Americans ages 24 to 44.

Now: In 2014, 6,721 people in the U.S. died from HIV/AIDS.

Then:  In 1986, AZT, the first drug used to treat HIV/AIDS, began clinical trials.

Now: By 2015, 15.8 million people worldwide were on anti-retroviral treatment- medications that slow the progression of HIV.

Then: In 1982, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first provider of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the U.S. opened in New York City.

Now: Today, there are testing clinics and service providers across the U.S. Find one near you at

Then: Until recently, the only way to lower your risk  of getting sexually transmitted HIV was to practice safe sex and use condoms consistently and correctly.

Now: In 2012, the FDA approved a medication called PrEP that helps reduce the odds of HIV infection in high-risk groups. You can reduce the risk of infection up to 72 hours after possible exposure by starting a medicine called PEP. It’s still important to practice safe sex.

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Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

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Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr Cruz with PatientDr. Cruz is a board-certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development, and mentorship.

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