Latest medical advances could allow people with HIV hope for a near-normal life expectancy
According to the World Health Organisation, treatment improvements enable patients to reach 78 years of age, if applied correctly. The antiretroviral therapy, firstly introduced 21 years ago, has dramatically helped HIV carriers improve the quality of their lives and reduce social stigmatization.
Adam Trickey, the lead author of the latest study on the matter, recently published in the Lancet journal, explains:
“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 lifespan of people diagnosed with HIV. However, further efforts are needed if life expectancy is to match that of the general population. 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.”
The study screened 88,504 HIV infected people from Europe and America. According to the results, the number of deaths was lower among those who started the treatment in the early stages of the disease. Moreover, the newest drugs also enabled better immune systems for the users.
In order for the treatment to provide best of results, antiretroviral therapy should be started immediately after HIV diagnosis. Nowadays, the advances are possible by using less toxic antiretroviral therapy combined with regular screening and better prevention programs. As a result of these advances, average life expectancy has increased by 9 years for women and 10 years for men in the study group.
However, life expectancy in people infected with HIV through injecting drugs has registered considerably less increase than in the ones contaminated via other ways.