Objective: Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has greatly improved the life expectancy of people living with HIV (PLHIV). Our study aims to project the life expectancy of PLHIV in a resource-rich setting in the context of the currently available antiretroviral treatments.
Methods: Patient antiretroviral treatment data were sourced from an observational cohort of 3434 predominantly male (94.2%) PLHIV in Australia over the period 1997–2010. These data were analyzed in a computer simulation model to calculate the distribution of time until exhaustion of all treatment options and expected effect on mortality. Standardized mortality ratios were used to simulate expected survival before and after treatment exhaustion.
Results: We estimated that the median time until exhaustion of currently available treatment options is 45.5 years [interquartile range (IQR) 34.0–61.0 years]. However, 10% of PLHIV are expected to exhaust all currently available cART options after just 25.6 years. PLHIV who start currently available cART regimens at age 20 years are expected to live to a median age of 67.4 (IQR 53.2–77.7) years. This is a substantial improvement on no cART [27.7 (IQR 23.8–32.0) years] but is still substantially less than the median general population mortality age [82.2 (IQR 74.0–87.8) years]. The life expectancy gap between PLHIV and the general population is greatest for those infected at younger ages.
Conclusion: As treatment options are exhausted, a substantial difference in life expectancy between PLHIV and the general population could be expected even in resource-rich settings, particularly for people who acquire HIV at a younger age or who are currently highly treatment experienced.