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HIV Positive People can Live as Long as Uninfected People

Update Date: Dec 20, 2013 10:27 AM EST

Treatment for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) has significantly improved patient's mortality rate. Over the years, getting HIV positive people better access to antiretroviral therapy has significantly helped with the fight this virus, which still has no cure. In a new study, researchers compared the mortality rates between HIV positive people and the uninfected population. The researchers found that HIV positive people could live as long as people who are infected.

The researcher from the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design examined people's life expectancy rates from 2000 to 2007. The researchers reported that the life expectancy rate for 20-year-old patients on antiretroviral therapy significantly increased during the eight-year period. Within the first three years, from 2000 to 2002, the life expectancy of the HIV-positive young adults increased by 36 years. From 2006 to 2007, HIV-infected people were estimated to live another 51 years.

By studying the trend, the researchers concluded that a 20-year-old person with HIV could live into his or her 70s, which is around the same age that people in the general population are expected to live until.

"I don't think, in all honesty, that there has been an area of medicine that has undergone (as big a) revolutionary evolution over our lifetime as HIV has," said study author Dr. Julio Montaner, the director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS to The Vancouver Sun, reported by TIME. "[The drugs are] simpler and safer and better tolerated, so people are able to take these treatments better and also for a longer period of time."

He added, "There are many reasons to believe that people living with HIV, although they are now trending towards near-normal life expectancy, may face additional challenges as they age. We do see what appears to be accelerated aging among people infected with HIV that have been living with HIV for a long time. But it's premature for us to conclude whether this is going to be a generalized phenomenon or not."

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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