Although HIV infection was once considered a certain death sentence, research published [December 18th] shows that the average person infected with HIV in North America can expect to live to the age of 63. Gay men with HIV can expect to live even longer, to an average age of 77, according to the findings published in PLOS One.
Kyle Murphy, assistant director of communications for the National Minority AIDS Council, called the disparity in life expectancy between whites and non-whites with HIV “very real and devastating.”
“Across the board, communities of color fare worse than their white counterparts,” he told Healthline. “They are diagnosed much later and are less likely to be retained in care or to be virally suppressed.” Dr. Joel Gallant, chair of the HIV Medicine Association, told Healthline he does not believe that race is an independent factor affecting life expectancy. “It’s a proxy for more infections from drug use and later presentation to care,” he said. The gay demographic, he said, tends to get tested for HIV regularly and to begin antiretroviral drugs immediately. Gallant, who said he sees HIV patients even in their eighties, noted that more people are being diagnosed at a later age, in part because older people tend not to get tested as often.
Early detection and treatment can now mean a normal lifespan for otherwise healthy Americans. The study results show that people who begin taking antiretroviral drugs earlier live longer. By lowering the number of viral cells in the blood, antiretroviral therapy, or ART, also helps to prevent HIV transmission.
Read the full article on Healthline.com.