All Blogs

COVID-19 vs HIV Pandemics


COVID-19 and HIV: both are among the most important health issues of our lifetimes. But beyond this fact, how do you the two pandemics compare?


First some similarities. Both diseases…


  • Caused worldwide concern, and often outright fear
  • Are largely asymptomatic in the beginning
  • Were diseases over which relatively little was known
  • Were accompanied by strong ethnic bias
  • Mobilized tremendous scientific and governmental response


Significant differences between COVID-19 and HIV exist as well:


  • COVID-19 victims usually recover, while HIV without treatment is universally fatal
  • COVID-19 deaths are usually among elderly persons while HIV death about HIV deaths affect those who are younger
  • Development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccinations has proceeded far more rapidly than interventions against HIV
  • Economic impacts from COVID-19 have been more widespread than those resulting from HIV


Cathy Creticos, MD, Director of Infectious Disease at Howard Brown Health, recently illuminated some of the comparisons between today’s COVID-19 pandemic and that of HIV in the 1980s and ‘90s: “Here we are in 2020 with this disease that kills people, that we don’t have any treatments for, that we really don’t understand the full manifestation and presentation biology of the virus. We’re really dealing in the same situation as in the HIV epidemic… I wonder if we had this type of effort at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, if we’d have solve this problem by now,” says Dr. Creticos. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that COVID affects everybody, but HIV was certainly perceived as not affecting everybody.”


Dr. Creticos’ insight is profound: The reality that both of these lethal diseases are a threat to all of humanity, and the conviction that through joint, coordinated, and diligent work we can overcome today’s compelling menace.


Scroll to Top