Main | Monday, July 28, 2008

New Study: Life Expectancy For People With HIV Rises By 13 Years

A new study published in The Lancet says that advances in treatment since the late 90's have added 13 years to the average life expectancies of people with HIV. In high-income countries with the appropriate health care available, a 20-year-old infected with HIV in 2008 can expect to live another 49 years with the disease.
The team, involving Bristol University staff, looked at over 43,000 patients. The study found a person now diagnosed at 20 years old could expect to live for another 49 years. But the Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration, which includes scientists from across Europe and Northern America, warned this was still short of the life expectancy for the wider population which stands at about 80.

Antiretroviral treatment for HIV consists of drugs which work against the infection itself by slowing down the replication of the virus in the body. This method of therapy was introduced in the 1990s, but has since become more effective and better tolerated. The researchers looked at life expectancy during three time periods after the introduction of the drugs - 1996-9, 2000-2 and 2003-5 - in high income countries.

Just over 2,000 patients died during the study periods. They found that while patients aged 20 diagnosed in the 1990s could expect to live another 36 years, that had increased by 13 years by 2003-5. During the middle time period, life expectancy stood at an extra 41 years.
If you are 20 years old (and even if you aren't), don't let that "you'll live to 69" fact cloud your judgment. That's still far below the life expectancy for the uninfected and that number is only valid if you immediately begin to monitor and/or treat your infection. Test, test, test.

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