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Access to Treatment Pushes HIV Mortality Rates Down

But HIV patients still have excess probability of death over long term

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Because of the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy, mortality rates for HIV patients have declined and are now much closer to mortality rates in the general population, according to a report published in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Krishnan Bhaskaran, of the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit in London, U.K., and colleagues compared mortality following HIV seroconversion in 16,534 individuals from several countries (median age at seroconversion 29 years) with expected mortality in the general uninfected population. The data studied covered the years 1981 through 2006.

After a median follow-up of 6.3 years, the researchers found that 2,571 individuals in the HIV group died, compared with 235 deaths expected in an equivalent general population cohort. The excess mortality rate per 1,000 person-years decreased from 40.8 before 1996 to 6.1 in 2004-2006 -- after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy. In addition, by 2004-2006, the researchers found no excess mortality in the first five years after HIV seroconversion among those infected sexually, though there was still an excess probability of death over the longer term (4.8 percent in the first 10 years among 15- to 24-year-olds).

"Ongoing monitoring of excess mortality will be important as new treatment advances are implemented in an attempt to further reduce mortality rates among HIV-infected individuals," the authors conclude.

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