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Life expectancy increase for HIV patients

25th July 2008

A new study has found that better treatment has seen life expectancy for people with HIV increase by an average of 13 years since the 1990s.

hiv

A report in the Lancet now suggests that HIV is effectively a chronic disease such as diabetes, rather than a fatal condition.

The team of researchers, including members from Bristol University, focussed on 43,000 patients and discovered that a person who was diagnosed at the age of 20 could now expect to live for another 49 years.

Antiretroviral therapy for treating HIV was introduced in the 1990s and consists of drugs that battle the infection and slow down replication of the virus in the body. These drugs have become more effective over the years and patients have been able to tolerate them better.

For the study, the research team looked at life expectancy during three phases after the introduction of antiretroviral therapy – in the periods 1996-9, 2000-2 and 2003-5.

Lead researcher Professor Jonathan Sterne said: "These advances have transformed HIV from being a fatal disease, which was the reality for patients before the advent of combination treatment, into a long-term chronic condition."

Professor Sterne said that the development was testament to the success of the anti-HIV drugs but warned that patients diagnosed at a later stage of their infection still had a much shorter life expectancy.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said that while HIV medication had become much more effective since the early days, researched needed to continue, especially for those who have developed resistance to some drugs.

 

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