Fewer AIDS patients dying of causes related to disease, study shows
A report published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that as anti-HIV drugs become more efficient, it is becoming less common for people with AIDS to actually die of causes related to the disease.
Judith Sackoff, Ph.D., and colleagues in the New York City Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control tracked all people aged 13 and older in New York City known to have AIDS more than 68,600 between 1999 and 2004.
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 percent 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.
They credit antiretroviral drugs for the shift and note that, while death certificate information may not be perfect, many non-HIV-related deaths were “preventable.”
It may be time to broaden the main focus of care for AIDS patients to include “all aspects of physical and mental health,” wrote Sackoff and colleagues.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 22, 2006.