July 18, 2011
Ugandans with HIV/AIDS who receive antiretroviral therapy (ARVs) can hope to have a near-normal life expectancy, according to research announced Monday at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome. The study's findings are likely applicable elsewhere in Africa, said researchers from the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.
The analysis involved data for 22,315 Ugandans with HIV age 14 and older who initiated ARVs between 2000 and 2009. Compared to the average Ugandan life expectancy of 55 years, people with HIV who start ARVs at age 20 could statistically be expected to live another 26.7 years. Those who initiated ARVs at age 35 could live another 27.9 years.
However, life expectancy differed markedly by gender. Beginning ARVs at age 20, a male could expect to live another 19.1 years, while a female could live 30.6 more years. In initiating ARVs by age 35, a male might live 22 years more, though a woman could live another 32.5 years.
It is suspected the gap reflects the tendency of males to access care late in the course of infection. Previous studies have found that earlier ARV treatment is linked to better health.
"The substantial life expectancy afforded by widespread access to [ARVs] underscores the fact that HIV diagnosis and treatment in resource-limited settings should no longer be considered a death sentence," said lead investigator Edward Mills. "Instead, HIV-infected people should plan and prepare for a long and fulfilling life."
Agence France Presse
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