Vancouver, BC [August, 7, 2015] A new study from the Canadian Observational Cohort (CANOC) Collaboration, housed at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), finds that the overall life expectancy of people living with HIV who have initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) is 65 years of age. While findings from this study demonstrate a notable improvement in mortality outcomes since the early years of the HIV epidemic, life expectancy still remains below that of the general Canadian population.
“An HIV diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was, but we must continue to be vigilant in ensuring treatment is reaching everyone, particularly more vulnerable groups, such as injection drug users,” said Dr. Robert Hogg, Senior Scientist at the BC-CfE, and the Nominated Principal Investigator of the CANOC Collaboration. “We must be proactive and diligent in ensuring access testing and treatment where it is most needed.”
In this study, decreased life expectancy was observed for women, participants with a history of injection drug use, individuals with Aboriginal ancestry, and those initiating ART in earlier time periods. The gender-based differences in life expectancy observed in this analysis reflect previous findings the CANOC Collaboration, which has identified poorer HIV-related treatment outcomes among women compared to men.
This study also observed decreased life expectancy among participants initiating ART with CD4 counts lower than 350 cells/µl. This finding reinforces current BC-CfE treatment guidelines, which recommend that ART should be initiated for all people living with HIV regardless of CD4 count, to ensure the best long-term clinical response. Earlier this year, the landmark START study, a 35-country clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), released findings strongly in support of early ART initiation regardless of CD4 cell count to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality among people living with HIV.
Treatment as Prevention® (TasP®) is the concept of starting treatment immediately after an HIV diagnosis in order to reduce viral load – ensuring improved health of the patient and prevention of disease transmission. Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the BC-CfE, pioneered the TasP® concept, which has been implemented in British Columbia, resulting in a steady and consistent decline in new HIV cases within the province.
“In light of previous research, it is not surprising these findings show early treatment is best, but it is critical to emphasize this research,” said Dr. Montaner. “Early ART initiation not only improves the health of people living with HIV, it also reduces onward transmission of the disease. Policymakers should support programs based on this science and provide widespread access to testing and treatment across Canada.”
This study used data from the Canadian Observational Cohort (CANOC) collaboration; the largest Canadian clinical cohort of people living with HIV on combination ART. The CANOC collaboration is an ongoing cohort study of over 10,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, across eight cohort sites in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The CANOC Collaboration is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and brings together a diverse research team to conduct policy-relevant studies in HIV therapeutics, health services and population health. In an effort to become more nationally representative, the CANOC Collaboration has recently expanded into the provinces of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
About the Canadian Observational Cohort (CANOC) Collaborative Research Centre
CANOC focuses on HIV health services and epidemiologic cohort research. This national collaboration conducts policy-relevant studies in HIV therapeutics, population and public health. The CANOC Centre brings together a diverse team to capitalize on the unique and robust CANOC database, maximizing the quality and breadth of the health services and policy research generated. The Centre is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN242).
About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is Canada’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including government, health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS. By developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses, the BC-CfE helps improve the health of British Columbians.
For additional information or to request interviews, please contact:
Caroline Dobuzinskis, BC-CfE
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66536