AIDS can live longer than DIABETES

Question

Hi Benjamin,

I read a recent article on life expectancy for patients with HIV/AIDS with interest. According to the latest research done in UK, a HIV/AIDS patients on average is expected to live almost a normal lifespan minus 5 years off if he is a non-smoker/non-drug user etc.

In contrast, a patient with Diabetes Type 1 will have his life expectancy shortened by as much as 20 years on average whereas Type 2 Diabetes by as much as 10 years.

This actually means HIV/AIDS is now a chronic disease less severe than Diabetes, and a HIV sufferer with no co-infection is expected to live longer than a diabetic patient. Am I right to assume this based on life expectancy ??

I am 44 years old and suffering from AIDS with low CD4 but have been so far healthy taking my HIV medications regularly. Despite my condition I look forward a long healthy life, and hopefully a cure will come during my lifetime.

Answer

Hello and thanks for posting.

Yes, I'd agree.

People living with HIV who have access to medications and can be adherent to pills and appointments do indeed have life expectancies that are estimated to very close to normal. Several studies from European cohorts suggested this in research studies. This week at the IAS2013 conference, we learned that this is true for HIV+ people living in Canada and the US, where a 20 year old + man is calculated to live around another 50 years, to age 70 or more.

You face some risks while your CD4 is low, but if your medications do the job that we fully expect them to do, you should also radically diminish your risk of HIV-related complications. The next steps would be to assess risks (and prevent) other non-AIDS-related comorbid illnesses such as cardiovascular, kidney or bone disease. What many patients face are the new challenges of healthy aging with HIV.

As for the cure; I think that we are incrementally approaching strategies that might do just that. It'll still take years, perhaps decades before this is safe, effective and economical, but yet a light on the distant horizon.

Finally, I'd challenge the notion that people living with HIV should be classified as sufferers. I think it's an incorrect characterization and only perpetuates stigma and victimization.

I hope that helps, BY