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Darin Schanker
Darin Schanker
Contributor •

AIDS: Still deadly

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Naturally, game 3 of the NBA Finals was a star-studded event. The classic rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers reigniting after 21 years attracted L.A. celebrities and NBA legends in equal numbers, and there, sitting court-side, looking hale and healthy, was Earvin “Magic” Johnson, quintessential Laker champion and one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

Seventeen years ago, very few would have predicted that Johnson would live to see the new millennium. The shock of Johnson’s November 7, 1991 announcement that he was HIV-positive is hard to fathom today: people like Johnson and others have successfully fought and lived with the disease for years. But from 1986 to 1996, over 300,000 people with AIDS died.

The precipitous decline in AIDS-related fatalities since the height of the epidemic, mainly due to the introduction of the antiretroviral drug cocktails (HAART or highly active antiretroviral theraphy) which have helped keep Magic health since 1996, has given rise to the myth that the disease can be treated and effectively cured. But Americans are still dying from AIDS.

The people who are most likely to die are the poor who can’t afford to get tested and treated (HAART can cost upwards of $1,000 a month), or who don’t get tested until they have full-blown AIDS; those made especially vulnerable to cancer or heart disease from their drug cocktails; and those long-term survivors whose earlier, pre-HAART treatment caused to virus to become drug-resistant. So while we should be optimistic about the future, we should keep in mind that there is no still magic cure for HIV/AIDS.

Thomas Connell

Summer Intern 2008

JD Candidate, 2010

University of Colorado