A 20-year-old HIV-positive adult on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the U.S. or Canada may be expected to live into their early 70's, a life expectancy approaching that of the general population, according to results published December 18, 2013, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Hasina Samji and colleagues from the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and the North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD).
The life expectancies of nearly 23,000 individuals on ART were calculated based on mortality rates in the early to mid-2000s. Participants in the study were from the NA-ACCORD and aged 20 years or older. Changes in life expectancy from 2000 to 2007 among HIV-positive individuals were then evaluated by selected sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, such as drug use history and immune cell counts
The authors found that life expectancy at age 20 increased from 36.1 to 51.4 years from 2000-2002 to 2006-2007. Men and women had comparable life expectancies in all periods except the last (2006-2007). Life expectancy was lower for individuals with a history of injection drug use, those who were non-white, and those who initiated ART with low CD4 count (a count of cells that activate the immune response) compared to those who started at a higher count. The results of this study indicate increasing longevity for individuals living with HIV in the U.S. and Canada and contribute to the growing evidence that HIV-positive people on ART have life expectancies approaching those in general populations.