Study Examines Death Rates for People Newly Diagnosed With HIV
In the five years after their diagnosis, people living with HIV in developed countries and receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy are no more likely to die than HIV-negative people, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Reuters reports (Kahn, Reuters, 7/1).
For the study, Kholoud Porter and Krishnan Bhaskaran of the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit in London examined the records of people living in 10 European countries and Australia (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2). Researchers monitored 16,534 people who were diagnosed as HIV-positive from 1981 to 2006 (AFP/Google.com, 7/1). They then compared the mortality rates of HIV-positive people in the first five years after infection with the rates for HIV-negative people of the same age and gender living in the same country at the same time (Reuters, 7/1).
About 2,500 people HIV-positive people died during the study period, more than 10 times the 235 deaths that likely would have occurred in a similar HIV-negative population. However, the majority of the deaths occurred early in the study period before antiretroviral drugs were available, according to the researchers (AFP/Google.com, 7/1). Before 1996, when antiretroviral cocktails were not widely available, the increased death risk for newly diagnosed HIV-positive people ranged from nearly 8% to 20%, depending on a person's age, before falling each year to 0% in the year 2000 for all age groups, Porter said.
The risk of death for people living with HIV/AIDS increases after the first five years of infection, possibly because people are less likely to adhere to antiretroviral regimens or are less able to tolerate side effects from the drugs, according to Porter. People ages 15 to 24 at the time of HIV infection have a 5% higher mortality rate 10 years after infection than HIV-negative people of the same age, and a 7% higher mortality rate 15 years after infection, the study found. People who are older than age 45 at the time of HIV infection have a 5% higher mortality rate in the first 10 years after infection, and a 12% higher rate 15 years after infection.
Porter said the study "underscores the importance that people are identified and treated early" (Reuters, 7/1).
The study is available online.