In the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic pushed our country and our healthcare system to the brink. Facing more than one million people infected1 – and more than 100,000 deaths – American biopharmaceutical companies went to work, supported by an active patient community who demanded more flexibility from federal regulators.2

By 1996, with the development and FDA approval of the first wave of antiretroviral drugs, the HIV epidemic slowed. By 2013, death rates had plummeted by nearly 85% over the prior two decades.3 Since the 1990s, nearly one million premature HIV/AIDS deaths have been prevented, with an associated economic value of $1.4 trillion.4 Over that time, HIV fell from the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. to the 23rd.

What was once thought to be untreatable is now beatable, with life expectancy at an all-time high.5 A 20-year-old diagnosed with HIV today can expect to live into her early 70s – a life expectancy comparable to that of a person without the disease. And those healthy indivduals contribute to a healthy economy. Better treatments that have allowed those living with HIV to stay in the workforce added $615 billion to the economy from 1996 to 2010.6

  5. Samji H, Cescon A, Hogg RS, Modur SP, Althoff KN, et al. (2013) Closing the Gap: Increases in Life Expectancy among Treated HIV-Positive Individuals in the United States and Canada. PLoS ONE 8(12): e81355

Impact of Biopharma on AIDS Death Rates

  • Living with HIV infection
  • Deaths

Deaths from HIV/AIDS fell after highly active retroviral therapies were introduced in the mid-1990s.