Sci-tech

HIV life expectancy is 'near normal' says new study

HIV life expectancy is 'near normal' says new study

However, when all age groups are considered, life expectancy for people with HIV is still lower than the general population.

Scientists writing in medical journal The Lancet said a 20-year-old who began antiretroviral treatment (ART) from 2010 can expect to live to 78 - similar to the general population.

Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, first became widely used in the mid-1990s.

Now one in seven people with HIV remain undiagnosed, and these people are missing out on the treatment that could enable them to live into a long and healthy old age'. But he said it also meant people aged over 50 now represented one in three of all those living with HIV.

But he identified a fresh issue created by this development.

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The latest treatments for HIV mean that young people living with the virus could live up to a decade longer, a new study says.

A "major shift" in healthcare training on HIV and ageing, along with more integration between primary care and specialist services, are needed following dramatic improvements in life expectancy for those with the virus, a charity has said.

"The fact that life expectancy for patients with HIV has risen so significantly is testament to the success of antiretroviral therapy since its introduction", said Stokes-Lampard, who was not involved in the research. Fortunately, both groups showed a very low rate of severe non-AIDS clinical events, such as progression to World Health Organization stage 4 or death, over the follow-up period. Furthermore, people who died specifically of AIDS during their treatment also declined between 1996 and 2010.

A new study has revealed that people living with HIV can expect to live 10 years longer than when the use of antiretroviral therapy first began in 1996.

The treatment, which consists of a combination of antiretroviral drugs, works by preventing HIV from multiplying, thus stopping the progression of the disease.

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Doctors and charities called the increase in life expectancy for people with the virus in Europe and the U.S. a "tremendous medical achievement" - but warned many are missing out on life-saving drugs as they have not yet been diagnosed as HIV positive.

Those who contracted HIV through injecting drugs seemed to fare worse than other patients.

Life expectancy in the United States is 78.9 in the U.S. and 80.1 in the UK. That same year, just over 17 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy.

Prof Sterne also looked ahead to the prospect of eventually eradicating the virus completely, saying: "People who are treated are no longer infectious, or far less likely to transmit their HIV" when they are taking ART.

On the other hand, Royal College of Global Positioning System chairwoman Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard stated that the new HIV treatment is "tremendous medical achievement".

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The authors of the study propose that their findings could help to reduce stigmatisation and help people with HIV gain employment and obtain medical insurance, as well as encouraging those diagnosed to start treatment as soon as possible and continue it fully. Moreover, the treatment also prevents the disease from spreading further.


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