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Living With AIDS

Richard E. Chaisson, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(3):434-436. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440030121034.
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The image of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), for the past 9 years, has been the image of death. The devastation that the AIDS epidemic has wreaked on individuals, families, communities, and nations is imponderable. From the earliest case reports of AIDS,1-3 the case-fatality rate has been high and survival short. Of the 112 241 persons with AIDS reported to the Centers for Disease Control as of October 31, 1989, fifty-nine percent are known to have died.4 In a study of the first 505 patients with AIDS in San Francisco, Calif, Bacchetti and coworkers5 found a median survival of 11 months. Patients diagnosed with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, the most common AIDS-related opportunistic infection, had a median survival of 10 months, and virtually all had died within 2 years of diagnosis. Survival for other opportunistic infections was shorter, and persons with Kaposi's sarcoma, although initially living longer than other


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