It has been 30 years since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its first report on AIDS and HIV. When news first broke about the fatal, untreatable illness, it scared the world.
While there are new treatments today that allow people with HIV to live longer, there still is no cure.
Many long-term survivors like Allen, 56, from Toronto, are now facing new health challenges, like the accelerated onset of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
“We’re carrying a virus that is transmittable and that can destroy peoples lives, which is very different from diabetes or cancer,” Allen said of HIV.
Allen has been living with HIV for 26 years, and while he is not optimistic about living to a ripe old age, he has come to accept his condition.
“I figure I give myself this framework of 10 to 15 years left, and I’ve really come to terms with that,” he said.
Allen says he’s quite sure that living with the stress of HIV, combined with the powerful drugs used to treat the infection, will shorten his life significantly.
HIV has infected an estimated 65,000 Canadians, and more than 13,000 have died. Close to 30 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since 1981.