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US adults with HIV have life expectancy similar to other Americans 


HIV is no longer a death sentence: US adults living with the virus have life expectancy similar to other Americans, study finds

  • Researchers compared more than 82,000 adults seeking HIV care between 1999 and 2017 with a subset of the U.S. population without HIV  
  • There were 11 percentage points separating death rates of people with HIV and the general population between 1999 and 2004
  • Mortality rates then began to drop and between 2011 and 2017, the difference in between the two groups fell to just 2.7 percentage points
  • Currently, more than 1.2 million Americans are infected with HIV, which can be managed by taking a daily PrEP pill that makes the virus undetectable 

Being diagnosed with HIV is no longer a death sentence and people living with HIV have near-normal life expectancies, a new study finds.

Researchers found that, at the start of the 2000s, there were 11 percentage points separating the death rate of Americans with HIV and those without.

However, by 2017, the death rates were only separated by 2.7 percentage point, meaning the life expectancy of those with HIV is similar to the general U.S. population.

The team, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says the findings show the tremendous strides that have been made in combatting HIV and turning into a disease that people can manage with simple medication.

‘In the early days of the AIDS pandemic, getting a diagnosis with AIDS was incredibly bad news and the prognosis for survival was really poor, and that’s not true today,’ lead author Dr Jessie Edwards, a research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told HealthDay. 

‘Someone diagnosed with HIV in this day and age can be linked to care and receive highly effective treatment and feel confident that their survival outlook is actually very good.’ 

In the US, more than 1.2 million people are infected with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, the virus that leads to the potentially deadly disease AIDS. 

About 13 percent with HIV aren’t aware they have the virus. 

Once a person contracts HIV, the virus sets about attacking and destroying immune cells that normally protect the body from infection.

During the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s, more than 50,000 people were dying every year from the disease.

In the last decade, doctors have gained a much improved understanding of how to control HIV.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once.

Those who are at higher risk, including men who have sex with men or those who have a sexual partner who is HIV positive, should be tested as often as once a year or more. 

One to way to stop HIV transmissions completely is for all people at high risk to take a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

PrEP users take a pill every day. The pill contains two medications, which help prevent HIV from establishing permanent infection, according to the CDC. 

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For the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the team looked at more than 82,000 adults seeking HIV care between 1999 and 2017.

This group was compared with a subset of the U.S. population without HIV using data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Between 1999 and 2004, there were 11 percentage points separating death rates of people with HIV and the general U.S. population.

However, mortality rates then began to drop ‘dramatically.’

Between 2011 and 2017, the difference in mortality rate between the two groups fell to just 2.7 percentage points. 

Although death rates remain ‘modestly higher’ for those with HIV, the researchers say they did not account for differences in death rates due to sociodemographic factors rather than ‘consequences of HIV infection.’  



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