AIDS: 1 in 4 Die of Other Things
Anti-HIV Drugs Making It Less Common to Die of HIV-related Causes
Sept. 18, 2006 -- Because of the success of anti-HIV drugs, it is becoming
less common for people with AIDS to actually die of causes related to the
disease, according to a New York study.
Experts from New York City's Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control
report that finding in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Judith Sackoff, PhD, and colleagues tracked all people aged 13 and older in
New York City known to have AIDS -- more than 68,600 people -- between 1999 and
During that time, a total of 12,715 New Yorkers known to have AIDS died.
Nearly three-fourths of those deaths were linked to HIV.
But more than 3,000 weren't related to HIV, according to death certificate
information. The percentage of deaths not linked to HIV rose by 33% over the
course of the study, Sackoff and colleagues report.
The three top unrelated causes of death were substance abuse, heart
disease, and non-AIDS defining cancer.
HIV Still Deadly
"Although HIV-related causes accounted for most deaths, the proportion
of deaths due to non-HIV-related causes increased by 33% and accounted for
approximately one-fourth of all deaths of persons with AIDS during this
period," the researchers write.
They credit antiretroviral drugs for the shift and note that, while death
certificate information may not be perfect, many non-HIV-related deaths were
It may be time to broaden the main focus of care for AIDS patients to
include "all aspects of physical and mental
health," write Sackoff and colleagues.
New York University's Judith Aberg, MD, agrees in an Annals of Internal
"Developed countries are experiencing an epidemic of conditions: obesity, CHD [coronary
heart disease], diabetes, and lung
Aberg writes, in the editorial.
Doctors "must remember that most of their HIV-infected patients will
survive to develop the diseases that plague the rest of us," Aberg
That may not be true for people who don't have access to antiretroviral
More than 3 million people worldwide died of AIDS in 2005, according to the
World Health Organization.
While global access to antiretroviral drugs has improved, millions of people
worldwide still don't get those drugs.
"At best, one in 10 Africans and one in seven Asians in need of
antiretroviral treatment were receiving it in mid-2005," states the World
Health Organization's most recent "AIDS Epidemic Update," dated