Life expectancy of HIV patients up by 10 years
LONDON: Life expectancy for young HIV-positive adults has risen by 10 years in the United States and Europe, thanks to improvements in AIDS drugs known as antiretroviral therapy, researchers said yesterday.
This meant many patients could expect to live as long as those without HIV, according to their study published in The Lancet medical journal.
The scientists said the improvements were likely due to the transition to less toxic medicine combinations, with more drug options for people infected with drug-resistant HIV strains, and better adherence to treatment.
“Our research shows how improved HIV treatments coupled with screening, prevention and treatment of health problems linked to HIV infection can extend the lifespan,” said Adam Trickey, who led the research at Britain’s University of Bristol.
Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, first became widely used in the mid 1990s. It involves a combination of three or more drugs that block the HIV virus’ replication. This helps prevent and repair damage to the immune system caused by the HIV, and also prevents onward spread of the disease.
The World Health Organisation recommends ART be given as soon as possible after diagnosis to everyone with HIV.
The researchers analysed 18 European and North American studies involving 88,504 people with HIV who started ART between 1996 and 2010.
Fewer people, who started treatment between 2008 and 2010, died during their first three years of treatment than those who started treatment between 1996 and 2007.
Trickey’s team said when they looked at deaths due to AIDS, the number during treatment declined over time between 1996 and 2010, probably because more modern drugs were more effective in restoring the immune system.
As a result, the researchers said between 1996 and 2013, the life expectancy of 20-year-olds treated for HIV increased by nine years for women and 10 years for men in the EU and North America.
This suggests that life expectancy of a 20-year-old, who began ART from 2008 onwards and responded well to it, would get close to a life expectancy of the general population — 78 years. Reuters