In four decades, HIV/AIDS has killed at least 700,000 Americans, COVID-19 has killed more in two years

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19

COVID-19 has killed approximately 750,000 Americans over the last two years, officially surpassing the number of lives lost to HIV/AIDS over the last four decades to become the country’s deadliest pandemic.

Recent data from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found more than 700,000 people have died from HIV-related illness since its emergence in the US in 1981. Highly effective antiretroviral therapies were developed during the 1990s, turning HIV/AIDS from the leading cause of death in young adults into a “chronic manageable condition,” according to peer-reviewed scientific journal “AIDS.”

Today, antiretroviral therapies like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) are widely accepted due to their substantial reduction of HIV-related infections and deaths.

“The rapid and progressive development of antiretroviral therapy has not only proven to be life-saving for many millions but has been instrumental in unveiling the inequities in access to health between rich and poor countries of the world,” researchers wrote for the AIDS scientific journal.

Despite their differing rates of transmission and mortality, the negative outcomes of both COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS have been disproportionately borne by minority communities.

Black and Latinx individuals still account for large percentages of new HIV infections while representing small portions of the total population. Gay men, bisexual men, and transgender individuals of all races and ethnicities remain severely and disproportionately affected by the epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Similarly, CDC data shows that Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native Americans are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death.