During the period 1982-1998, the rate of death due to AIDS-related illnesses increased until it became the eighth (8th) leading cause of death overall in 1992-1995. In 1995, when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak, AIDS-related illnesses was reported to be the underlying cause of more than 42,500 deaths. The rate fell thereafter until AIDS-related illnesses was the 17th leading cause of death in 1998, when it caused about 13,000 deaths. AIDS-related illnesses caused 2% of all deaths in 1995, and about 0.6% in 1998.
However, most of the leading causes of deaths in the US -- heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung diseases, pneumonia -- afflict mostly the elderly; but less so among those in the 25-44yo age group. In the latter group, unintentional injury (car accidents, gun shots, etc.) is the to leading cause of death, followed by cancer, heart diseases, suicides and homicides (see Figure 1).
If the focus is made among those in the 25-44 yo age group, the rate of death due to AIDS-related illnesses increased until it became the top leading cause of death in 1994-1995 (see Figure 1). In 1995, AIDS-related illnesses caused almost 31,000 deaths (19% of the total deaths) in the 25-44 yo age group. Deaths due to AIDS-related illnesses among the 25-44 yo age group fell to fifth (5th) place in 1997 and 1998; about 8,500 deaths (7% of the total) in this age group in 1998.
About 70% of all deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have occurred among the 25-44 yo age group.
The situation is even more dire among African-Americans in the 25-44 yo age group.
Since 1991, AIDS-related illnesses has been the leading cause of death among African-American men in the 25-44 yo age group (see Figure 2). It surpassed homicide as the top cause of death and remained so even in 1998. During the peak of the epidemic in 1995, AIDS-related illnesses caused almost 9,000 deaths (32% of all deaths in this group) and about 3,000 deaths (16% of the total) in 1998.