AIDS has finally fallen off the top ten causes of death in New York City, for the first time since 1983.
According to NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, as recently as 2011, AIDS was the number-nine killer in the city, with 766 deaths attributed to it. Statistics released in February 2014, however, revealed that the number of deaths attributed to AIDS for 2012 was significantly lower, at 609.
At a City Council budget hearing, Bassett said, “It’s a tribute to the efforts that have been made...in tackling this epidemic. We are seeing some success,” according to the New York Daily News.
“In some areas of the country, there’s been a growing concern about rising incidents in [men who have sex with men]. We haven’t seen that in New York City.”
The number of people becoming infected with HIV in the area is still concerning, currently around 3,000 every year, but the rates have been holding steady or even declining in recent years. Also credited with the drop in AIDS-related deaths is medical advancements that allow people who are HIV-positive to live longer with proper treatment.
A film about the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis in NYC, “The Normal Heart,” is set to air on HBO on May 25. Based on Larry Kramer’s largely autobiographical award-winning play, it will star Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, and Jim Parsons. According to the official site, the movie takes “an unflinching look at the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.”
The summary explains, “Ruffalo portrays Ned Weeks, who witnesses first-hand a mysterious disease that has begun to claim the lives of many in his gay community and starts to seek answers. Matt Bomer plays Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned’s lover. Taylor Kitsch plays Bruce Niles, a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist. Jim Parsons plays gay activist Tommy Boatwright, reprising his role from the 2011 Broadway revival. Roberts plays physician Dr. Emma Brookner, a survivor of childhood polio who treats several of the earliest victims of HIV-AIDS.”