Side Effects: The New Age of AIDS in America

Courtney Humphries

Courtney Humphries

When the cocktail of AIDS drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was introduced in 1997, it radically changed the picture of HIV and AIDS in the U.S. Deaths from AIDS plummeted by two-thirds. Now, far fewer people are progressing along the once-inevitable path to illness and death. The impact of new therapy has been both dramatic and double-edged: it has spared tens of thousands from death, but has complicated their lives in countless ways. This newspaper series in five parts examines the new landscape of AIDS in the aftermath of success – a success that is still incomplete as there is still no cure. The new therapies carry literal side effects – the toxicities of drugs that infected individuals must take everyday for the rest of their lives. But the drugs have also created social and political side effects as AIDS is transformed to an increasingly chronic disease. The series relays the stories of HIV-infected individuals, clinicians, social workers, and AIDS service and prevention workers in Boston and examines how their lives and work have changed now that AIDS is no longer seen as a “crisis” in the U.S.

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