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Life Expectancy With HIV Closer To Normal

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2008

New research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrates that the life expectancy of people with HIV is now approaching those who are not infected.

A team of British researchers lead by Kholoud Porter constructed a database consisting of 16,534 individuals whose date of HIV infection is known with different degrees of accuracy assigned. Researchers discovered that mortality due to HIV/AIDS is now 94% lower than it was before 1996. That was the year in which the multi-drug Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART, or the “AIDS Cocktail”) became available.

Excluding those who are infected due to injected drug use, people today who are under 45 years of age when infected with HIV experience an excess mortality rate of less than 1% during the first five years after infection. That excess mortality rate rises to approximately 2.4% to 7% fifteen years after infection.

The results are not as good for those who are above the age of 45 when infected. People in that age group experience a 1.5% greater mortality rate than the overall population during the first five years after infection. That morality rate rises to 11.9% at the fifteen year mark.

Porter commented to Reuters on the study’s results:

“This is looking really good that life expectancies are becoming close to the uninfected population,” said Porter, an epidemiologist. “It also underscores the importance that people are identified and treated early.”

Anti-gay activists often try to claim that being gay shaves 20 years off the life of a gay man. Nazi apologist Paul Cameron has been claiming that for years, returning to that theme again just last year in a move that earned him condemnation from the president of the Eastern Psychological Association. This study doesn’t try to assess the lifespan of the overall gay male population. It should however lay to rest the urban myth that gay men die at 40. It won’t probably, but it should.

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