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Published on 28 July 2008

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Drugs raise HIV life expectancy

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Patients with HIV live 13 years longer if their homes are in high-income countries thanks to improvements in medication, according to research.

A study published by the University of Bristol showed improvements in combination anti-retroviral therapy (CART) – a course of medication used to treat HIV – have seen life expectancy increase by some 13 years between 1996-99 and 2003-05.

These advances have “transformed HIV from being a fatal disease into a long-term chronic condition”, the study said.

But the research found life expectancy in HIV patients remains well short of the general population, and patients treated late in the course of their infection have worse life expectancy.

For the research, published in The Lancet, a team of HIV experts compared changes in mortality and life expectancy among HIV-positive individuals treated with CART.

Professor Jonathan Sterne, of Bristol University’s Department of Social Medicine, analysed 18,587, 13,914 and 10,584 patients who started Cart treatment in 1996-99, 2000-02, and 2003-05 respectively.

Life expectancy increased from 36.1 years in 1996-99 to 49.4 years in 2003-05, an increase of more than 13 years, the study revealed.

It said that “despite” these positive results, an HIV-positive person starting CART treatment at the age of 20 will on average live another 43 years, to 63.

A 20-year-old HIV-negative person in a high-income country can expect to live to about 80, a difference of nearly 20 years.

Copyright PA Business 2008

University of Bristol



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