It’s been thirty years since the first drug was approved to treat HIV/AIDS. That was AZT, in 1987. Since then, anti-retroviral drugs have been helping people live longer, healthier lives after their diagnosis. But just how much has treatment changed?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of new diagnoses in the U.S. dropped 19 percent between 2005 and 2014. Still, at current diagnosis rates, one in six gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. And progress hasn't been uniform. The rate of diagnoses among gay and bisexual, Latino and African-American men rose significantly during that same period.
There's no cure, and Philip Chan, a physician and HIV researcher at Brown University, says prevention remains a challenge.
But there have been improvements. For instance, Chan points to the fact that many multi-drug combinations now come in a single-pill form, making daily treatment simpler. Here are three other advances:
Of course, the holy grail would be a vaccine against HIV. Chan says that's still 10-20 years away, though. In the meantime, he is putting much of his effort into reaching under-served populations and addressing issues that can complicate HIV/AIDS treatment, such as homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse.