New drugs mean HIV positive people have ‘near normal’ life expectancy

HIV positive people can expect have a ‘near normal’ life expectancy.

Young people getting diagnosed with HIV who started antiretroviral therapy in 2010 are expected to live to 78, which is similar to the general population.

People who started treatment 1996 are expected to die 10 years younger, at around 68.

Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol, published in medical journal The Lancet.

The study authors looked at 88,500 HIV positive people from Europe and North America who were involved in a total of 18 studies.

They attribute the growing success of HIV treatments to the improvement made to medications.

Newer HIV drugs have fewer side effects and are better when it comes to stop the virus from continuing to replicate in the body; they are also harder to build a resistance against.

They are also overall less toxic than the medications used 20 years ago.

‘Today’s report reminds us just how far we’ve come since the start of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. Medical advances now mean that people with HIV live long and healthy lives,’ said Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust.

‘In many cases those who are on effective treatment can expect to live as long as their HIV negative peers. This is great news. However, it also means we’re entering uncharted territory.’

He said one in three people living with HIV are aged 50 and over, which poses a new challenge.

‘As it stands, the healthcare, social care and welfare systems simply aren’t ready to support the increasing numbers of people growing older with HIV,’ Brady said.

‘We need a new model of care to better integrate primary care with HIV specialist services, and we need a major shift in awareness and training around HIV and ageing, so that we’re ready to help older people live well in later life.

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