Compared with men at ART start, the expected age at death was between 3 and 4 years greater for those who survived 5 years on ART (Table 2), depending on their current age. Life expectancy was higher for women reflecting the higher life expectancy of women in the general population (Table 3). There was no difference in mortality between those with CD4+ cell count 350–499 and at least 500 cells/μl for either men or women.
Mortality rates per 1000 person years among younger men decreased with increasing CD4+ cell count and were lower in patients with viral suppression. Mortality rates overall, and restricted to those aged 20–44 years, for different durations of ART, and stratified by CD4+ cell count and viral suppression, are summarized in supplementary Tables 4 (men) and 5 (women), http://links.lww.com/QAD/A495. After 5 years on ART, mortality rates among younger men varied from 2.7 (1.7–4.3) (viral suppression/high CD4+ cell count) to 38.1 (21.1–68.9) (unsuppressed/low CD4+ cell count). Of those who died, 20% did not have a clinic visit recorded in the previous 6 months and 11% had been out of care for more than 1 year.
Secondary analyses show the contributions of viral suppression unadjusted for CD4+ cell count (supplementary table 6, http://links.lww.com/QAD/A495) and CD4+ cell count unadjusted for viral suppression (supplementary table 7, http://links.lww.com/QAD/A495) to decrease in life expectancy of men. After 5 years on ART, 20-year-old men would be expected to live on average to age 75 years if virally suppressed and to 59 years without suppression. Viraemia at the previous visit was undetectable in 88% of patients on ART for 5 years. Compared to 20 year-old men with viral suppression, those without viral suppression had life expectancies that were 11 and 16 years shorter after 1 and 5 years of ART, respectively.
We analysed data on over 20 000 patients on ART, among whom there were nearly a thousand deaths. Our study was based on a cohort that included approximately 34% of patients in usual care for HIV infection in UK and therefore our estimates of expected age at death should be applicable to patients on ART in the UK. In 2012–2013, UK CHIC undertook extensive linkage with databases held at Public Health England (PHE) in order to validate the reporting of deaths by the participating hospital clinics and to include deaths missing from HIV clinic records (approximately 16% of all deaths), which were reported in the UK civil death register. Therefore completeness of death ascertainment should be high . However, as many patients were lost to follow-up, there remains the possibility of missed deaths, which would bias estimates of expected age at death upwards. As expected, patients lost to follow-up were more likely to have characteristics associated with migrant backgrounds and some may have returned to their country of origin now that ART is more widely available, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Analyses of those lost to follow-up were inconclusive in determining whether lost patients were likely to have lower or higher mortality than those remaining in care. Reasons for losses to follow-up are varied and as well as including dropping out of care and deportation, also include transferring care to another ART provider, either in the UK, but not contributing to UK CHIC, or abroad. Although there was some evidence that, compared with those who remained in the study, those who dropped out were sicker (positive association with AIDS diagnosis), other associations implied that a well group were also lost to follow-up (younger and having a higher CD4+ cell count). As in a French study , men were more likely to be lost than women, which could be because men are a more mobile population. In each time period considered, only patients with data on CD4+ cell count and viral load measurements could be included, which led to around 10% of patients being excluded from each model. Therefore, our results may only apply to patients remaining in regular care in the UK, but this will be the majority of HIV-positive individuals in the continuum of care . Our estimates of life expectancy only used age and sex-adjusted estimates of mortality rates that were stratified by response to ART determined by attained CD4+ cell count and viral suppression status. A greater range of variables, including non-HIV biomarkers, have been used in prognostic models that aim to define short-term prognosis rather cancy [7,14–17].
Estimated life expectancy may be biased by extrapolation beyond available data. There were few patients aged more than 60 years (<3% of the total) and therefore estimates of mortality rates at older ages are imprecise, particularly in women. We compensated for this by using Poisson regression models to estimate mortality rates, which borrowed strength from trends across age and sex. Thus, we ensured that the rates used in lifetables were smoother than crude sex and age-specific rates would have been. However, this also constrained mortality patterns to be similar for men and women, which may not be true. In using lifetables, we are assuming that age-specific mortality rates estimated from the current population can be used as if they will apply within individuals throughout their lives. However, these estimates are based on a population that has experienced a maximum duration of ART of 12 years, whereas a current patient who starts ART at age 35 years will, for example, when they are aged 60 experience the mortality rates of a 60 year-old conditional on having taken ART for 25 years. Possible scenarios that have been considered in a modelling exercise are that there will be long-term toxic effects of ART or that patients will run out of treatment options due to drug resistance . On the contrary, in the future, better ART drugs may be developed or less toxic combinations used. In particular, NRTI-sparing regimens may reduce long-term toxicities. Currently, there is considerable interest and ongoing trials in ART simplification strategies , such as using a single boosted protease inhibitor as a maintenance regimen in those who are stable and virologically suppressed on ART , which will also reduce the cost of lifelong ART.
The predicted longevity is dependent on successfully navigating the continuum of care, which requires diagnosis of HIV infection before severe immunosuppression, prompt linkage to care, timely initiation of treatment, good adherence to ART and retention in care [1,32]. Although at later durations of ART, attained is more important than nadir CD4+ cell count, it is important to realize that estimated life expectancies are conditional on surviving the first year of ART and this is highly dependent on nadir CD4+ cell count . Furthermore, our analysis does not include individuals who never start ART, which will exclude some individuals with the poorest prognosis. Our study supports a previous analysis which showed that patients successfully treated with ART should be eligible for life insurance at affordable premiums .
In the UK, where ART is free and available in an established National Health Service, people living with HIV infection can expect to live as long as the general population if successfully treated. Our study showed that longevity depends on both restoration of CD4+ cell count to near normal levels and suppression of the virus to undetectable levels in peripheral blood.
UK CHIC has been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK (Grant numbers G0000199, G0600337, and G0900274 and M.M. has been funded by MRC (Grant numbers G0700820, and MR/J002380/1). The views expressed in this manuscript are those of the researchers and not necessarily those of the MRC.
M.G., M.M. and C.S. did the study design and conception. C.O., S.K., P.H., M.J., A.P., R.G., D.C., F.M., J.W., F.P., M.F., J.A., C.L., M.N. and J.A. collected the data. C.S. coordinated the study. S.J. and T.H. did the data management. M.M. did the statistical analyses and wrote first draft of article with help from M.G. All authors contributed to interpreting the data, critically revising the article and approved the final version.
There are no conflicts of interest.
UK CHIC Steering Committee: Jonathan Ainsworth, Jane Anderson, Abdel Babiker, David Chadwick, Valerie Delpech, David Dunn, Martin Fisher, Brian Gazzard, Richard Gilson, Mark Gompels, Fabiola Martin, Phillip Hay, Teresa Hill, Margaret Johnson, Stephen Kegg, Clifford Leen, Mark Nelson, Chloe Orkin, Adrian Palfreeman, Andrew Phillips, Deenan Pillay, Frank Post, Caroline Sabin (PI), Memory Sachikonye, Achim Schwenk, John Walsh, Alan Winston, Nicky Mackie.
Central Co-ordination: UCL Research Department of Infection & Population Health, Royal Free Campus, London (Teresa Hill, Susie Huntington, Sophie Jose, Andrew Phillips, Caroline Sabin, Alicia Thornton); Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit (MRC CTU), London (David Dunn, Adam Glabay).
Participating Centres: Research Department of Infection and Population Health, UCL, Royal Free Campus (Caroline Sabin), Imperial College Healthcare Trust, London (Nicky Mackie, Alan Winston, John Walsh), North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, London (Jonathan Ainsworth), Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust, London (Jane Anderson), MRC Clinical Trials Unit, London (David Dunn), South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Middlesbrough (David Chadwick), Public Health England Centre for Infections (PHE CfI), London (Valerie Delpech), Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton (Martin Fisher), Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London (Brian Gazzard, Mark Nelson), Mortimer Market Centre, University College London Medical School (Richard Gilson), North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol (Mark Gompels), St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, London (Phillip Hay), Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, London (Margaret Johnson), South London Healthcare NHS Trust, London (Stephen Kegg), The Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust, Edinburgh (Clifford Leen), York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Fabiola Martin), Barts and The London NHS Trust, London (Chloe Orkin), University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (Adrian Palfreeman), King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London (Frank Post), UK Community Advisory Board (Memory Sachikonye).
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