First, the good news:
- There is still no cure for AIDS. However, biomedical breakthroughs (in early detection of HIV infection, improved screening technologies, advances in antiretroviral and combination drug therapies during the 1990's, as well as prophylactic medications against opportunistic infections, etc.), coupled with vigilant grassroots information campaign (especially from the gay community), contributed to the dramatic decrease in new cases of AIDS after the peak rate in 1993 (Fig. 1, yellow triangle); and, dramatic decrease in AIDS deaths after 1995 (Fig. 1, blue diamond).
- If HIV infection is diagnosed early, current biomedical therapies (e.g., HAART) significantly delay the progression to AIDS status. Moreover, people living with AIDS (PLWA) can now live longer with a "manageable disease" (see Fig. 2) -- reflected as an increase in the total population of PLWA (see Fig. 1, closed circle) from lower AIDS death rates after 1995 (Fig. 1, blue diamond).
- Deaths due AIDS-related illnesses and other opportunistic infections declined sharply after 1993 and 1995, respectively (see figure above, also Deaths due to HIV Infection).
- The aforementioned dramatic decreases in new AIDS cases and deaths due to AIDS-related illnesses and other opportunistic infections (Fig. 1) were most evident among new births and children, men who have sex with men (MSM), especially among "White" people, and to a certain extent, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- There was a similar dramatic decrease in AIDS and AIDS and AIDS-related deaths among the 25-44 year old -- the age group most affected by AIDS. At the height of the epidemic, AIDS was the leading cause of death in 1992 through 1995 among those in the 25-44 year old age group. In the 25-44 year old age group, AIDS as a cause of death fell to fourth place in 1997.