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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 12, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 19
Life expectancy near normal for young HIV patients on ART, new study shows
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Life expectancy near normal for young HIV patients on ART, new study shows

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Advances in antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) over the past 14 years mean that HIV-positive people may live nearly normal life spans, according to a new study.

The research by Bristol University in the United Kingdom, published May 10 in the medical journal The Lancet, analyzed 18 European and American studies involving 88,504 HIV patients over the 14-year span between 1996 - when ART first came into use - and 2010.

According to the new research, 20-year-olds who began ART in 2010 are predicted to live up to 10 years longer than those who started on the older version of the treatment in 1996. This suggests that life expectancy of a 20-year-old who began ART from 2008, responded well to it, and continued on the regimen would get close to the life expectancy of the general population - 78 years.

When the scientists looked specifically at deaths due to AIDS, the number during treatment declined over time between 1996 and 2010, probably because more modern drugs are more effective in restoring the immune system.

'Our research illustrates a success story of how improved HIV treatments coupled with screening, prevention, and treatment of health problems associated with HIV infection can extend the life span of people diagnosed with HIV,' Adam Trickey, medical statistician at the University of Bristol, said in a statement.

'Combination antiretroviral therapy has been used to treat HIV for 20 years, but newer drugs have fewer side effects, involve taking fewer pills, better prevent replication of the virus, and are more difficult for the virus to become resistant to.'

However, further efforts are needed if life expectancy is to match that of the general population, Trickey added.

Strategies adapted for people in developing regions of the world to get better access to treatment are also needed.

The Bristol University team hopes the findings help reduce the stigma associated with living with HIV, so those infected can keep working and have smoother access to medical insurance, where needed.

In addition, the outcome should encourage people to start treatment as soon as possible and adhere to it, the researchers said.

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