People With HIV Can Have Near Normal Life Expectancies

Jim Burroway

February 26th, 2010

That’s according to two new studies presented at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) being held in San Francisco.

The first study from the Netherlands followed 4612 newly diagnosed patients between 1998 and 2007. The study excluded those who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) less than six months after diagnosis or who already had an AIDS-defining illness in the first six months. The researchers then calculated the mortality rate of 0.67% a year:

This mortality rate enabled the researchers to compute life expectancies. For a patient diagnosed at the age of 25 the life expectancy came out at 52.7 years – in other words they would die, on average, at the age of 77.7. This was scarcely different to the life expectancy for 25 year olds in the general Dutch population – 53.1 years.

…Men and women diagnosed aged 25 could expect to live just five months less than HIV-negative people and men diagnosed at age 55 would live 1.3 years less (women 1.5 years less). For patients diagnosed with HIV (but not AIDS) symptoms the figure was two years shorter for men and women diagnosed at 25, and six and 7.5 years shorter for men and women respectively diagnosed at 55.

The second study was a much larger one of more than 80,000 patients from 30 European countries. This study didn’t just follow the newly-diagnosed, but all patients who had been on anti-retriviral therapy (ART) since 1998. It found that men who were not injecting drug users and who had a current CD4 count over 500 were no more likely to die during the follow-up period than their HIV-negative counterparts.

The key was maintaining a CD4 count of over 500 for at least three years. Over all, when those with lower CD4 counts were included, people with HIV had a 50% higher risk of death. But when injected drug users and people with CD4 counts lower than 500 were excluded, the mortality of people with HIV was virtually identical to those who were HIV-negative.

Burr

February 26th, 2010

That’s good news.

Of course, HIV treatment comes with several side effects that can accumulate over the long term, so there’s still a need for a cure or at least better medicine.

OTRDriver

February 27th, 2010

This story is good news, but as Burr stated so well, HIV Treatment and the disease itself brings with it many associated complications. What this study fails to include is the QUALITY OF LIFE an non-infected, non-medicated person can have and the trials and tribulations of someone who is infected and on (ART) anti-retro viral therapy. Life with this disease is no picnic! Contrary to what the researchers would have you believe.

RCM

February 28th, 2010

Personally, I’m a huge fan of cures for diseases. Prevention is not always better than a cure, it all depends what prevention entails…and as for treatment, treatment is better than nothing, it isn’t even close to a cure.

Jason D

February 28th, 2010

yeah, unless there’s some undiscovered benefit to HIV, and even then it would have to be fairly spectacular to be worth, I still say we cure the disease outright. Always good to make patients comfortable and give them the longest, brightest outlook in the meantime, but that’s no substitute for a cure.

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