May 11, 2009
Do people eventually die from having Hiv or does it have to turn into aids. Also if some keeps switching meds does that increase your chances of death.
Response from Dr. McGowan
In resource rich countries, the average life expectancy of people living with HIV continues to increase. This is in large part due to the availability of HIV medications to suppress viral replication which in turn restores the immune system. HIV associated morbidity and mortality has decreased as the use of anti-HIV medications has increased. There is also increasing recognition that HIV infection causes a state of heightened inflammation and that this pro-inflammatory state may promote other diseases that are not traditionally thought to be related to HIV and immune dysfunction e.g. cardiovascular disease. With that in mind, we may end up using HIV medications a lot earlier in the course of infection but we have to wait for more data to support this premise. So, causes of death in people with HIV can be "HIV-related" (traditional opportunistic infections e.g. PCP that invoke the designation of AIDS) or "non HIV-related" (e.g. heart attack, liver disease). HIV medications may help with both of these categories. Switching medications does not in itself incresae one's chances of death. Most switches are made due to either HIV resistance to one or more of the existing combination or due to some toxicity related to one of the medications. So, most switches if done correctly may decrease one's "chances of death."
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