People With HIV Can Have Near Normal Life Expectancies
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.
Life Expectancy With HIV Closer To Normal
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.