People in North America and Europe who are infected with HIV and who begin treatment with a triple-drug cocktail can expect to live nearly as long as people who aren’t infected by the virus, a new study suggested.
A combination of factors — including less toxic drugs and better medical management — have resulted in longevity gains for people who are HIV-positive, concluded the study, published in the journal Lancet HIV.
“Between 1996-99 and 2008-10, life expectancy in people living with HIV starting [antiretroviral therapy] increased by around 10 years for both sexes, in Europe and North America,” wrote the authors, who work at a variety of academic institutions through North American and Europe.
The findings reflect a trend that has been apparent for some time among people with HIV and their health care providers. A disease that was once a death sentence has become a chronic condition for people who have access to and the ability to stick with an HIV drug regimen.
“We’re just getting better at what we do,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci, who was not involved in this study, is a leader in HIV research; he continues to see HIV-positive patients who get treatment at the National Institutes of Health.