AIDS drugs have saved 3 million years of life in the US

Increasingly effective HIV therapy--including a decade of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)--has provided 3 million years of extended life to Americans with AIDS since 1989, report researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., Kenneth Freedberg, M.D., M.Sc., and their colleagues calculated that advances in HIV care have yielded a total survival benefit of 2.8 million years in the United States. The researchers also estimate that drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV have averted 2,900 infant infections, saving an additional 137,000 years of life. The model projected that a person initiating HIV therapy in 2003 could expect to live more than 13 years longer than if he or she had been diagnosed in 1988.

The paper by Drs. Walensky and Freedberg, of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School Center for AIDS Research, and their coauthors has been posted online by The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

"Since the early 1980s, soon after the first reports of what we now know as AIDS, NIH has devoted $30 billion to HIV/AIDS research," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "This study clearly shows the dramatic impact that sustained investment in biomedical research can have in improving the lives of Americans."

"As new HIV therapies have come into the clinic, we have witnessed the transformation of HIV/AIDS from a rapidly fatal disease into a controllable condition," notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Although the rate of new infections in this country remains unacceptably high, for many people, HIV infection is no longer the death sentence it once was." "Advances in HIV/AIDS treatments have been striking, particularly over the past decade. Our goal in this study was to quantify the clinical progress in AIDS care in terms of years of life saved," says Dr

Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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