Thirty years ago on Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the first-ever report on the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), although the disease was not officially named until the following year. The AIDS epidemic in the US has shifted from primarily affecting gay men in the 1980s to disproportionately affecting minority women in the 1990s and 2000s. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, racial and ethnic minorities are 58 percent of the cases of AIDS reported to the CDC since 1981; however, they constitute only 12 percent of the population in the US.
Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, stated, “Although the numbers in the decades have been stable, the rates of the disease are unacceptably high. New diagnoses are 19-22 times of white women in the US. That’s a startling statistic.”
Since 1981, over 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide, and about 33 million are living with the infection. In the United States every year, approximately 56,000 people are infected with HIV and 16,000 die of AIDS. As of 2001, 1.4 million people have started taking protease inhibitors. Less than half of the 15 million people who should be taking the drugs actually have access to them.
Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stated, “This battle is not over. As long as the AIDS virus threatens the health and lives of people here and around the globe, our work will continue to connect people to treatment, educate them about how to protect themselves, battle discrimination, and to keep the country focused on our collective fight against this pandemic.”