Many U.S. AIDS Patients Still Die When ‘Opportunistic’ Infections Strike, Says Study

HIV virusEven after the advent of powerful medications for suppressing HIV, a new study finds that more than one-third of people in San Francisco who were diagnosed with an AIDS-related infection died within five years.

“The main cause of mortality arises from people stopping treatment entirely,” said Dr. Robert Grant, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who reviewed the findings but was not involved in the research.

When HIV treatment lapses, so-called “opportunistic” infections and illnesses can arise, posing a real threat to patients’ health, he explained.

The bottom line, according to Grant, is that there is still “a long way to go” in prolonging the lives of Americans with HIV/AIDS.

The new study was led by Dr. Sandra Schwarcz, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. She and her colleagues tracked 30 years of data kept by the city’s Department of Public Health, which has kept medical records on San Franciscans with HIV/AIDS since the virus first became known in 1981.

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