Since the HIV / AIDS pandemic exploded in the 1970s, no cure has been developed for the 1.2 million Americans living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). But with today’s medical care, their life expectancy may be the same as that of any other American, according to a new study.
“In the early days of the AIDS pandemic, it was incredibly bad to be diagnosed with AIDS, and the prognosis for survival was really bad, and that’s not true today,” said lead author Jessie Edwards, a research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina. at Chapel Hill, told HealthDay. “A person diagnosed with HIV today and at this age can be linked to care and receive highly effective treatment and feel confident that their survival prospects are actually very good.”
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According to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the mortality rate for those entering HIV care fell “dramatically” between 1999 and 2017, from a difference of 11.1 percentage points to 2.7 percentage points. And while those living with HIV remained at a “modest higher risk of death” than the general population, the study did not take into account sociodemographic factors separate from HIV infection.
The findings underscore the crucial importance of access to health care, which many in the United States still lack. At the same time, another recent study found that people living with HIV who then get AIDS are more likely to have suicidal thoughts – and for every two people living with HIV who have suicidal thoughts, one person will attempt suicide.
“There is an urgent need to prioritize mental health screening and care in all HIV testing and treatment settings,” said Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, a researcher in the study, according to the university. “Suicide risk should be assessed in all HIV patients, especially those who have been recently diagnosed and those with advanced disease.”
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