Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

HIV life expectancy 'near normal' thanks to new drugs

HIV life expectancy 'near normal' thanks to new drugs

Professor Jonathan Sterne, who co-wrote the study, told Sky News that medical advances mean a HIV patient "taking one pill every day could expect near-normal life expectancy".

People who started taking antiretroviral treatment (ART) in 2008 or thereafter lived longer, healthier lives than those who started treatment in earlier years, they added.

Antiretroviral therapy, described as "one of the greatest public health success stories of the past 40 years", involves a combination of three or more drugs which block the normal progress of HIV. Fauci, who was not involved in this study, is a leader in HIV research; he continues to see HIV-positive patients who get treatment at the National Institutes of Health.

As a result of these improvements, between 1996 and 2013, the life expectancy of 20-year-olds treated for HIV increased by nine years for women and 10 years for men in the European Union and North America.

Between 1996 and 2013, the life expectancy of 20-year-olds treated for HIV increased by nine years for women and 10 years for men.

A new investigation has discovered that modern HIV drugs could add ten years to the life expectancy of patients with HIV. "Now 1 in 7 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".

"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 hard for the virus to become resistant to". Since then, however, the drugs have been refined and treatment using them has improved as patients try different combinations in order to eliminate side effects and avoid resistance. Narrowing the gap for HIV patients is something the authors hope will "decrease stigmatization of people living with HIV and help them to obtain insurance or employment".

The researchers pooled data from 18 studies that followed or are following HIV-positive people in 10 countries in Europe and North America, giving them information on roughly 88,500 people. Apparently, those who became infected through the use of contaminated needles, probably because of administering drugs, did not show any improvements.

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'In many cases those who are on effective treatment can expect to live as long as their HIV negative peers. Moreover, according to charities, there are still too many individuals who remain unaware that they have the virus, to begin with.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said the improvement in treatment was a "tremendous medical achievement".

As a result, the World Health Organization recommends antiretroviral therapy to be given as soon as a person is diagnosed with HIV.

Brady warned that healthcare systems are ill-equipped to handle the increased number of people growing old with HIV.

There is still no cure for HIV, but after 1996, antiretroviral treatments became available. What is antiretroviral therapy?

Had they started treatment in 1996, they would have been expected to die 10 years younger.

"The other issue is combating HIV in Russian Federation and Ukraine, which is rising at frightening rate".

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