New research has found the life expectancy of HIV-positive individuals in the UK has increased by over 15 years since 1996. The findings, published today [12 Oct 2011] in the BMJ , suggest that improvements in antiretroviral therapy treatment has helped people with the disease to live longer.
Until now, few studies have estimated how long those with HIV in the UK are likely to live. The Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded study, led by academics at the University of Bristol and UCL, examined the life expectancy for individuals treated for HIV in comparison with the UK population.†
Using data from the UK Collaborative HIV Cohort (UK CHIC) study on 17,661 patients who started antiretroviral therapy between 1996-2008, the researchers estimated the additional years that will be lived by an HIV-positive individual after age 20. The team found that the average life expectancy in HIV-positive individuals has increased from 30 years in 1996 to 1999 to just under 46 years in 2006 to 2008 although this is still 13 years less than that of the UK population.
Starting treatment later than guidelines suggest resulted in up to 15-years loss of life: at age 20, life expectancy was 53 years in those starting antiretroviral therapy with CD4 count between 200 and 350 cells compared with 38 years in those with CD4 count below 100 cells.
The findings also reveal a ten-year higher life expectancy of women compared with men who are treated for HIV-infection. During the period 1996 -2008, life expectancy was 40 years for male patients and 50 years for female patients compared with 58 years for men and nearly 62 years for women in the general UK population.
Margaret May, lead author and Senior Research Fellow in the University’s School of Social and Community Medicine, said: "Our research has found life expectancy in the HIV-positive population has significantly improved in the UK. We should expect further improvements for patients starting antiretroviral therapy now with improved modern drugs and new guidelines recommending earlier treatment."†