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Is HIV still a killer

Mar 12, 2016

Under what circumstances will HIV still cause death, even if you are 100% adherent to you treatment

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

HIV/AIDS-related death is very uncommon among people who are on treatment and have viral suppression; the best way to ensure this is to be adherent to medication and clinical follow up.

HIV-related death is more common among people who are diagnosed late or initiate treatment with lower CD4 cell counts- in these cases, the risk of death are driven primarily by AIDS-related complications; other causes of death are often related to non-AIDS issues, including infection-related cancers (HPV causes cervical and anal cancer, HCV and HBV can cause liver cancers), liver disease and so on. We'd be remiss in ignoring the impact of serious mental illness and drug addiction- while not specifically AIDS-related, are affected by HIV's stigma, discrimination or criminalization.

Today's HIV treatments work- they work to prevent illness, cancers, AIDS, death and virus transmission (both from people living with the virus and for those uninfected). Antiretroviral treatments are recommended for all people living with HIV at any CD4 cell count, and pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended as part of prevention strategies for people at risk of infection. With today's tools, we have the opportunity to end AIDS-related death and dramatically reduce new cases of HIV infection- in children, adolescents and adults. Indeed, in many parts of the world (including sub-Saharan Africa), AIDS-related deaths are dramatically decreased and new infections down. Yet, because of the failure to get individuals tested and into care and treatment, thousands of individuals; men and women, and including hundreds of children will die every day, The greatest challenge for our generation, and our communities is to fully deliver the promise of ending AIDS and making new HIV infections a rare thing.

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