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Health Disparities in Life Expectancies among PLWH in the U.S.

test tubes filled with blood to test HIV.A recent study published in JAMA Open Network highlight the health disparities faced by people living with HIV (PLWH) when it comes to life expectancies in the U.S. The study, which looked at data from 2000 to 2016 from a large health care system, had the goal of determining the overall life span and comorbidity-free years of PLWH, especially when compared to the population without HIV. 

The researchers frequency matched PLWH 1:10 to those not living with HIV. Overall, information from a total of 39,000 PLWH and 387,785 from the population without HIV over the age of 21 were used for analysis. Chronic conditions that were included in analysis were chronic liver disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 

One of the major findings of the study was that difference in overall life expectancy from 2011 to 2016 was between 6.8 to 9.1 years, with the former applying to those who initiated Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) at high CD4 cell counts. 

Additionally, in terms of comorbidity-free years, PLWH had 16.3 fewer healthy years compared to the population without HIV. However, those who initiated ART at high CD4 cell counts had a smaller difference at 9.5 fewer healthy years. These findings indicate that although life expectancies for PLWH has greatly increased since ART first emerged in the late 80s, prevention of comorbidities among PLWH should be a top priority for health care professionals.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2767138?

Kristen Paul Bonifacio
Health Project Coordinator
Center for Community Practice, University of Rochester Medical Center

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