Life Expectancy For Those Living With HIV 'Near Normal' Thanks To New Drugs

A new study in The Lancet suggests that young people on the latest HIV drugs have a near normal life expectancy based on improvements in drug treatment. 

BBC reports:

Twenty-year-olds who started antiretroviral therapy in 2010 are projected to live 10 years longer than those first using it in 1996, it found.

Doctors say that starting treatment early is crucial to achieve a long and healthy life.

Explaining the success of new HIV drugs, BBC shares:

The study authors, from the University of Bristol, said the extraordinary success of HIV treatments was a result of newer drugs having fewer side effects and being better at preventing the virus from replicating in the body.

It is also more difficult for the virus to build up a resistance to the most recent drugs.

Improved screening and prevention programmes and better treatment of health problems caused by HIV are thought to have helped, too.

But many people with HIV still do not live as long as expected, especially those infected through injecting drugs.

Antiretroviral therapy involves a combination of three or more drugs which block the normal progress of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Providing details on the study's methodology, BBC writes:

The researchers looked at 88,500 people with HIV from Europe and North America who had been involved in 18 studies.

They based their life-expectancy predictions on death rates during the first three years of follow-up after drug treatment was started.

They found that fewer people who started treatment between 2008 and 2010 died during this period compared with those who began treatment between 1996 and 2007.

The expected age at death of a 20-year-old patient starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) after 2008, with a low viral load and after the first year of treatment, was 78 years - similar to the general population.

Great news! Between early testing, treatment, and prevention--HIV and its negative impact could be eradicated.