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A stunning AIDS fact

At a meeting with the editorial board yesterday, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, dropped this stunning piece of data on the AIDS epidemic in the United States. In the 1980s, he said, a 21-year-old diagnosed with HIV could expect to live just one year. Today, a 21-year-old who becomes HIV-positive has a life expectancy of 70.

"Pretty remarkable," Dr. Collins said, after noting the impact of anti-retroviral treatments that lower the level of HIV in the blood and boost immune systems. For those whose lives have been saved, it's a miracle.

You can hear more about what he said on AIDS and other topics here:

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 17, 2010; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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he didn't mention that people with AIDS also appear to show signs of premature aging, with "old people's" disease appearing in middle age. the life expectancy figure comes from a modeling study done in Switzerland, i.e., it's not based on real data. It would help if journalists afctually tracked down sources. Wapo's health and science coverage is usually as bad as this repetition of a factoid without knowling what it means.

Posted by: thebuckguy | March 17, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I know this may sound like a long shot, but her it goes: I am a single straight black male who decided I was tired of getting HIV tests every 6 months. So here is my grand idea to avoid exposure to any STD..I stopped having sex, period! I do not plan to engage in any sexual behaviors, safe or otherwise until I decide to remarry. This has worked wonderfully for me for the past almost 7 years. For those who you who chose otherwise I really do wish you the best and I fully support more funding for the cure of any and all STD’s. Until then I will stick with my method because it provides the ultimate peace of mind and it is 100% effective.

Posted by: dhampton100 | March 17, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

At what cost?? There was an article not too long ago that stated the cost for drug treatment in poor countries is $200-$500 dollars per year. Middle income countries drug treatment is $2000-$5000 dolars per year. In rich countries like the U.S. it's $12,000-$15,000 dolars per year. Why the huge difference??? Who pays for this?

With the drug treatment can a person still transfer the disease to another partner? Let's pass a law that once a person knows he or she has the "Bug", that person must give the health department a list of the people they have had sexual relations with before they get treatment.

While a person with the disease may live to 70, they will still die because of complications with having the "Bug".

Posted by: doughboy96 | March 17, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Twenty years ago, anti-retroviral treatment cost $40,000 per year. Given inflation, that's about $80,000 per year now. It's only because the cost of this medicine has dropped so much that the life expectancy has gone up. If HIV treatment cost today what it did 20 years ago, it would be as unaffordable as it still remains to people in developing countries. The good news about life expectancy is masked by the bad news that this disease is still out of control in many communities, and the viruses may yet find a way to mutate the way that common cold bacteria have done to become immune from antibiotics. The costs of the HIV epidemic could still skyrocket at almost any time because of these factors.

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