24 Year Average
Nov 19, 2011
Hello, I was just reading that on average a person who has contracted hiv's life expectancy is 24 years. I was thinking about Dr. Bob. He only made it 20 years. I don't understand why with all of the medical advances that people are still dying. Sorry, I am just still so sad and it frightens me. I keep seeing posts acting like aids is coming to an end but it obviously isn't. It is confusing. thank you
Response from Dr. Young
Hello and thanks for posting.
I won't delve into Bob's untimely passing in any detail here (it's detailed elsewhere on our site), but Bob did not die an AIDS death. He died of a type of infection that sadly claims people across an wide age (and disease) spectrum. Even apparently healthy (and HIV negative) persons can and sadly occasionally die from this (I know, I work as a general infectious disease doctor at a large community hospital when I'm not HIV doctoring- we see this happen).
For that matter, people living with HIV who are diagnosed before lethal illness, have access to medications, doctors and are able to be adherent very, very rarely die of AIDS-related causes. In our mid-western city and mid-sized clinic of ~800 people, I can't remember the last AIDS-related death of a person in our clinic.
Now, that's not at all to say that people dont (and sadly) die; but among persons in care, the death rates approach that of the general population. We do have concern about increased apparent risks of cancer, heart, kidney and bone diseases, to name a few. The big challenge for those of us in the US and Europe is trying to figure out the best ways to prevent, screen and treat people living with HIV who may have these other risks.
Every unexpected death is sad. One tragic death doesn't mean that experienced medical observation (including Dr. Bob's own work) is wrong or trying to mislead. To assume that "it obviously" is wrong would be a disservice to our friend.
My 2c. BY
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