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Life expectancy in HIV-positive people in the US still lags 13 years behind HIV-negative people
Gus Cairns, 2016-02-28 13:50:00

A study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) comparing life expectancies of HIV-positive and HIV-negative people within the Kaiser Permanente health insurance system has found that although life expectancy in HIV-positive people has improved, life expectancy at age 20 remains 13 years behind that of matched HIV-negative people. This 13-year gap did not improve between 2008 and 2011, the last year of follow-up in this cohort study.

The study was also able to compare life expectancies in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people in the Kaiser system with life expectancies in the US general population. Life expectancy is two years lower in the US general population that in the HIV-negative group in Kaiser, and the difference is greater in some groups, notably five years in men. At least part of this difference will be due to HIV, though part will also be due to differences in health coverage.

“In addition to timely ART initiation, risk-reduction strategies such as smoking cessation may further narrow the survival gap." Julia Marcus

The researchers also looked at risk factors for mortality and were able to calculate life expectancy if these were absent. Starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) early, not having hepatitis B or C, and not having a history of drug and alcohol problems all raised life expectancy; but the biggest difference was due to smoking. Nonetheless, even HIV-positive people who had never smoked had a life expectancy over five years lower than HIV-negative people.