AIDS-Related Illnesses Likely Will Be Third Leading Cause of Death Worldwide Within 25 Years, Study Says
AIDS-related illnesses within the next 25 years are likely to become the third leading cause of death worldwide after heart disease and stroke, according to a study published on Monday in PLoS Medicine, the AP/Miami Herald reports. AIDS-related illnesses currently are the fourth leading cause of death behind heart disease, stroke and respiratory infections, according to the study's researchers. Colin Mathers and Dejan Loncar of the World Health Organization examined data from more than 100 countries and analyzed links between mortality trends and income per capita. They also looked at such factors as education levels and tobacco use and used U.N. estimates for projected HIV/AIDS prevalence. The researchers then entered the data into a modeling equation to predict the future leading causes of disease and death. They found that at least 117 million people likely will die from AIDS-related illnesses between 2006 and 2030. If new HIV cases can be prevented and access to antiretroviral drugs is improved, that figure could be reduced to 89 million, according to the researchers. "What happens in the future depends very much on what the international community does now," Mathers said. Richard Hays, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was not involved in the study, said, "It will be increasingly hard to sustain treatment programs unless we can turn off the tap of new HIV infections," adding, "These AIDS numbers point to a need to do more in prevention." Hays said that prevention methods should include condom use and possible new strategies, such as a vaccine. "We need a menu of strategies for real people," Hays said (Cheng, AP/Miami Herald, 11/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.