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HIV/AIDS Drugs Increase Life Expectancy


Updated May 06, 2014

HIV/AIDS Awareness Ribbon

HIV/AIDS Awareness Ribbon

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Life expectancy for someone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS used to be dire, but that was years ago. For people who have access to new medications for HIV, called "anitretroviral therapy" or "highly active antiretroviral therapy" (HAART), at age 20, life expectancy has now increased to about 30 to 40 added years if they take the HAART medication correctly.

Life Expectancy and HIV/AIDS

This aforementioned increase in life expectancy has occured in the past decade, meaning that people living with HIV/AIDS, in countries where the HAART treatment is available, can expect to live roughly two-thirds of a normal life span if they take HAART medication correctly. Of course, two-thirds is still one-third too little, but progress is being made (and some of that one-third is in the control of people living with HIV/AIDS themselves). People with HIV/AIDs can also add years to their lives (just like anyone else) by not smoking, eating well and exercising.

Calculating Life Expectancy in HIV/AIDS

To calculate life expectancy in HIV/AIDs patients, researchers combined data from 43,000 patients in 14 different studies in countries in the United States, Canada and Europe. From this data, they were able to calculate life expectancy.

Aging with HIV/AIDS

This leads to a problem that was inconceivable in the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: how to provide medical care for an aging HIV/AIDS population. These issues are just beginning to emerge in HIV/AIDS care. The aging population of HIV/AIDS patients is beginning to force medical specialists to rethink HIV/AIDS care. In the past, opportunistic infections were the primary concern for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now issues, such as the long-term effects of HIV and HAART medication, are becoming of greater concern.


The Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration. Life expectancy of individuals on combination antiretroviral therapy in high-income countries: a collaborative analysis of 14 cohort studies. The Lancet, Volume 372, Issue 9635, Pages 293 - 299, 26 July 2008.

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