Antiretroviral treatment has provided South African HIV patients 2.8 million years of life from 2004 to 2012, and could provide as much as 28 million years of life otherwise unrealized by 2030, a study just released online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases says.
The study was based on a mathematical analysis of known survival benefits of antiretroviral treatment access, attrition and the numbers of people initiating antiretroviral treatment during those years. The analysis, and the survival benefits indicated in the country with the largest HIV epidemic in the world, has implications for worldwide benefits from HIV treatment, the study’s authors say.
The Survival Benefits of Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa looked at potential outcomes for increased degrees of treatment access and the years of life they could be expected to save by 2030, including current policies (17.9 million years of life), universal access to a second line of treatment for HIV (21.7 million life years), increased links to care for patients eligible for, but not receiving antiretroviral treatment (23.3 million years of life) to the best case scenario of improved links to care with universal access to a second line of antiretroviral treatment — which is where the 28 million years of life comes in.
South Africa’s history of lives needlessly lost during its era of denialism makes this analysis all the more compelling, an accompanying commentary, Massive Benefits of Antiretroviral Therapy in Africa by Dr. Sten Vermnund points out. Vermund’s commentary also highlights the potential for treatment as prevention and other advances to further advance recognition of how essential continued investment in global health remains.