1980s to present: The leading cause of early death
The AIDS epidemic caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) was first documented in 1981, although it was present in the United States since the 1960s. HIV affects the body’s immune system and undermines its ability to fight against infections.
It may be transmitted through certain body fluids that are capable of containing high concentrations of HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. It can also be transmitted from mother to unborn baby, if left untreated.
AIDS is the final stage of HIV and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States among people aged 25 to 44.
Present: An estimated 38,000 new HIV infections still occur in the United States each year. HIV has no cure, but the risks can be lowered through safety measures like sterilized needles, protected sex. Also, PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is a new antiretroviral medicine that prevents HIV from developing within 72 hours.