Life expectancy of HIV positive individuals is one of the driving factors behind OPT-In For Life. Dr. John Zurlo at Penn State said, “People with HIV don’t have to die anymore. They can live deep, rich, and fulfilling lives.”, and he’s right.
A recent study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) demonstrated that although HIV life expectancy rates are not equal between HIV positive and negative individuals, the gap has been closing, and that HIV itself may not be the sole reason for the gap.
Factors such as Hepatitis B or C, depression, and drug and alcohol problems were factors, but smoking was the biggest differing factor. “In addition to timely ART initiation, risk-reduction strategies such as smoking cessation may further narrow the survival gap,” said Julia Marcus, one of the researchers of the study. The full abstract can be found here.
One interesting aspect of this study is that death rates and life expectancy in HIV-positive people has tended to be compared with the general population’s figures. But of course people with HIV form part of the general population. Thus, taken over the whole study period, life expectancy in HIV-positive people at age 20 was 49 years; in HIV-negative people it was 62 years; and in the US general population it was 60 years. This means that if the Kaiser Permanente HIV-negative population resembles the HIV-negative US general population, then HIV reduces life expectancy in the US general population by two years.
In subgroups, the difference was bigger: in men the gap between HIV-negative and general-population life expectancy was five years, in black people three years, and in Hispanic people six years. However, Kaiser’s users are not likely to resemble the general population, so the actual reduction in life expectancy due to HIV in the general population is likely to be lower than this.
There are a lot of factors in play when it comes to the total health picture; far more than just HIV status. Take the step to think about your own total health picture. Connect with us via our Social Media channels and find ways to keep yourself healthy and celebrating life. OPT-In For Life.