Modern antiretroviral drug therapies are dramatically extending the life expectancies of people with HIV, according to a study coming from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. At one time, a diagnosis of AIDS was virtually a death sentence. The study suggests a 20-year-old diagnosed and treated after 2008 could have a life expectancy almost as long as the general population’s or of about 78 years.
Less Toxic Drugs with Reduced Side Effects and Increased Life Expectancy
Over the last 20 years, HIV has been treated with a “drug cocktail” or combination antiretroviral therapy. Drugs used since 2010 have fewer of the unpleasant side effects caused by drug toxicity. People also have greater treatment options.
Therapy has become easier for patients since they can take fewer pills. The drugs are more effective at preventing the replication of the HIV. Also, and critically important, they reduce the virus’s ability to become resistant to the drug.
The World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of beginning treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Adam Trickey, a medical statistical and researcher speaking for The University of Bristol, confirmed that HIV screening programs are important.
Improved HIV therapies and better treatment of associated health problems extent the life expectancy of someone of the people infected with HIV. Increased attention to preventing the disease also remains a significant factor.
The British researchers analyzed data from more than 88,000 people in Europe and North America. They found fewer deaths in the first three years among HIV patients treated after 2008 when compared to those who began treatment between 1996 through 2007. Researchers believe that people with HIV can now expect to live almost as long as those without it.
Although HIV is still incurable, it can now be controlled. As shown by the study, an early diagnosis and treatment can add years to the lives of people with HIV.
“However, further efforts are needed if life expectancy is to match that of the general population,” said lead author Adam Trickey.
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