This is a very good question and would have been a lot easier to answer in the late 1980s and early 90s. Before I answer, let me first define “terminal illness”. There are many definitions for a terminal illness, but the most accepted definition is an illness that is incurable and will result in death in a certain time period. This definition is commonly used by hospice agencies and helps to determine the patient’s eligibility for services. In the case of an HIV infected person in the 80s and 90s, treatment options where limited and many died from complications of AIDS. Since the introduction of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), which is the use of multiple medications to treat HIV/AIDS, this disease has evolved from a terminal illness to a chronic illness and individuals are living longer lives.
With that being said, HIV/AIDS is a terminal illness if one does not have access to care and/or is non compliant with his or her medical therapy. HIV/AIDS patients who do receive adequate treatment and have access to care can live a normal lifespan. (c) 2007 Rani Whitfield. This article was published July 2007 at http://aolblackvoices.com