AIDS kills less: HIV death statistics

AIDS kills less, that's good news to me. I knew it but this morning, to alleviate a sudden concern that my three-week-long cold might be the death of me, I decided to enquire. My method is not very scientific: I googled it: 'causes of death in hiv people'

Out pops this article from the Annals of Internal Medicine (I have no idea who they are but sounds official enough): Causes of Death in People with AIDS in New York City between 1999 and 2004 -- 145 (6): I-49 -- Annals of Internal Medicine. And now I am confused by their writing.

OK, the good news is that I am less likely to die of AIDS than if I had been diagnosed pre-HAART.

Before the availability and widespread use of HAART, people with AIDS usually died of an infection or cancer that was related to HIV infection. With HAART, fewer people with AIDS die of these conditions. They live longer and eventually die of causes that are unrelated to HIV infection.
The authors state 'HIV causes AIDS.' OK, so far I can follow. So then, when someone with AIDS (that's serious already a condition), the researchers looked at their death certificate to see what killed them. This is where I get confused: some of them died of HIV-related causes. Some others died of non-HIV related causes.

I am trying to understand the difference between a HIV-related cause and AIDS. I don't get it. I don't get it at all. Could HIV be the cause of anything else than AIDS? So 'HIV causes AIDS' and 'HIV causes other stuff' are two valid statements. I don't think that is what the authors meant, and I become a wee bit concerned.

OK, I can visualise a non HIV-related cause of death: murder, electrocution, being run over by a bus, strangling yourself to death (as part of erotic play or as a suicide)... but I can not visualise a HIV related cause of death other than being one of the many diseases defining AIDS.

Under the heading 'Who was analyzed?' the authors explain,
68,669 people with AIDS 13 years of age or older who were reported to the New York City HIV/AIDS Reporting System and Vital Statistics Registry between 1999 and 2004.

Now that is a strange choice of population because... take PML for instance. If you are diagnosed as having AIDS because you have HIV and exhibit signs of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) then you would think that the PML would kill you rather than a non-hiv related cause, like measles, murder etc.

Over at, I verified that "AIDS is a classification assigned to someone who has been diagnosed with the most serious opportunistic infections and illnesses." Well, they are not that serious illnesses if something else can come and kill you.

Am I nit-picking? Somebody help! Suddenly my three-week-old cold becomes threatening again.

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