People living with HIV in Canada and the United States are now projected to live as long as people uninfected by the virus.
The University of British Columbia’s B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS drew the conclusion that HIV no longer equates to shorter lifespans, and is set to publish its positive findings in the scientific journal PLoS One. The Centre, which conducts regular HIV/AIDS research, attributes longer life expectancy to more effective medical treatments, which are “simpler and safer and better tolerated.”
While people in their twenties who contracted the virus in 2001 were projected to live an average of 36 more years, that number jumped to 51 in 2006. In fact, people with HIV can now live upwards of 70 years. On the other hand, individuals with the virus are more likely to develop medical problems, commonly associated with old age, earlier in their lifetimes – including “heart disease, cancers, and…cognitive decline.”
Despite this promising trend, HIV still disproportionately affects marginalized groups, including racial minorities and the LGBT community. According to CDC data from 2010, 44 percent of new infections occurred among African Americans, and Hispanic/Latinos contracted HIV at a rate three times that of their white counterparts. The overall highest transmission rate happened among men who have sex with other men (MSM) in Canada and the United States, amounting to 46.6 percent and 63 percent, respectively. With regard to life expectancy, the B.C. Centre’s study also explains that Caucasians living with HIV generally live longer than people of color and men who are sexually active with other men.
In spite of these discrepancies, the world is more prepared to fight HIV than it was decades ago. With a combination of medical and contraceptive technologies, as well as comprehensive sex education, the world can fight, and overcome, the once-deadly condition.