Study: People with HIV have life spans approaching those of general population

People with HIV now have life spans approaching those of the general population, according to a study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

According to the study, a person in his or her 20s who contracts HIV can now expect to live into the 70s. This is vastly different from the 1980s when the diagnosis of HIV meant one only had a few years to live.

The study's authors followed individuals pursuing combination anti-retroviral therapy (ART) from 2000 to 2007. Despite the overall improvements in life expectancy, not everyone is benefiting equally. "Differences by sex, race, HIV transmission risk group, and CD4 count remain," the study explains.

The higher life expectancy is largely due to improved treatments with fewer side effects for those who are able to afford them.

The Vancouver Sun spoke with HIV researcher Dr. Julio Montaner who contributed to the study.

Via the Vancouver Sun:

In 2000, the average 20-year-old newly diagnosed with HIV could expect to live another 36 years. By 2006, that figure had climbed to 51 years.

"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," Montaner says.

Still, despite the tremendous improvements, many questions remain. Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Montaner said it is still unclear if younger HIV-positive people who are taking the newer medicines will suffer from accelerated aging.

Via the Vancouver Sun:

"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."

 Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter at @mikekrumboltz.