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Study Finds That Long-Term Use of HIV Drugs Doesn't Increase Non-AIDS Death Risk

December 8, 2011

Ever since HAART came about in the mid '90s, the life expectancy among people living with HIV/AIDS has increased significantly. But, there have been some serious questions about the overall safety of taking these medications long-term. These concerns are especially prevalent given the current debates around PrEP, treatment as prevention and whether or not people living with HIV/AIDS should start treatment sooner rather than later.

But a recent study might help quell some of those fears.

Researchers from the EuroSIDA study suggest that prolonged use of antiretroviral therapy does not increase the risk of death from non-AIDS-related illnesses such as heart and kidney disease. According to aidsmap, by analyzing the health outcomes of more than 12,000 people living with HIV/AIDS who started treatment after 1996 and were categorized as being on treatment less than two years, two to three years, four to six years, six to eight years, or more than eight years, the researchers found:

  • During 70,000 patient years of follow-up, 1297 patients died. Sixty eight percent of those deaths were due to non-AIDS-related causes, while 32 percent of all deaths were due to AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Of the 68 percent of non-AIDS related deaths, 14 percent of those deaths were related to liver-related issues; 10 percent to non-AIDS-related cancers; and 9 percent to heart-related illnesses. Other deaths included 7 percent to violence, 9 percent to non-AIDS related infections, and 7 percent to other causes; 12 percent of deaths had unknown causes.
  • Being on antiretovirals for more than two years reduced AIDS-related deaths by 14 percent. Yet, it only reduced the risk of dying from non-AIDS related issues by a mere 3 percent.

Researchers did however find a correlation between the long-term use of antiretroviral therapy and dying from non-AIDS-related cancers. But they suggested this might be due to the growing aging population of the HIV/AIIDS community or the increase of cancer awareness and screenings over the years.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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