There are currently about 34 million people living with HIV across the world. If left untreated, HIV develops into a fatal condition known as AIDS with victims having between 8-10 years to live. The life expectancy of people living with HIV has dramatically improved over time thanks to the scientific research and treatment options available today. While LE for people living with HIV was approximated to be about 19 years back in the 90s, today one can live as long as the general population if HIV diagnosis is made and early treatment started. The 19 years has been extended up to about 53 years!
To improve the life expectancy of individuals living with HIV, starting ART treatment as early as possible is crucial to be able to control the condition. In fact, studies have indicated that people with HIV on ART treatment and responding to treatment have reduced morbidity and mortality thus able to live as long as the general population that is not affected by the virus.
However, that will depend on other factors like how soon the condition was diagnosed, how early treatment was started, gender, age, and general lifestyle. Based on these factors, research in Brazil estimated 95% of deaths occurring in the first year after diagnosis were as a result of late diagnosis while it indicated that averting late diagnosis by taking ART drugs would reduce AIDS mortality rate by 39.5%. This is a clear indication that early diagnosis and health care are crucial in improving life expectancy among people living with HIV.
Different governments are calling out for regular diagnosis to ensure people know their status so that they can start treatment in time to improve life expectancy and lead an excellent quality of life. Doing away with such lifestyle activities like smoking, drinking, and unprotected sexual intercourse will help push the LE further. A young person in his/her 20s diagnosed with HIV can now live into his or her 70s according to research by North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design. Another study by the Swiss Cohort supported this indicating that individuals that started their treatment before the CD4 cell count fell below 350 cells/cubic millimeter may achieve a life expectancy same as that of the general population.