People with HIV 'can live longer'
WHILE many experts have said HIV is not a death sentence, a new study has provided the proof
The research, the first of its kind in Africa which was conducted by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV-Aids and Canada's University of British Columbia, found that by merely receiving anti-retroviral treatment one can "expect to live a near normal lifespan".
Yesterday, the "landmark" study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and one of the authors is Dr Jean Nachega, professor of medicine and director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at Stellenbosch University.
The study involved over 22300 people aged 14 and older, who received combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) at the Aids Support Organisation clinics between 2000 and 2009 in Uganda.
In Uganda, life expectancy at birth is 55 years. The study found that HIV-positive patients at the age of 20, who were placed on cART, could live for another 26,7 years, and a 35-year-old placed on the medication could live for an additional 27,9 years.
Nachega said studies like this one had been undertaken in Europe and North America.
"It highlights the importance of ARV treatment," said Nachega.
He also highlighted the fact that the study looked only at those on cARVs and did not take their diet into account.
Nachega said the results could only be beneficial for those patients who live a healthy lifestyle and use their medication as prescribed.
International donors who have ploughed money into the continent for the treatment of HIV and Aids would now see that their investments were paying off.
Interestingly, the study found that women had a significantly higher life expectancy than men because men only seek treatment when the disease is at a more advanced stage.
Nachega said there were several parallels between South Africa and Uganda when it came to the epidemic - one of the most important was that when the study was conducted, both countries had administered the same ARV cocktail to patients.