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International Health Insurance News: HIV 'no longer a death sentence'

Expat health insurance customers no longer need to consider being diagnosed HIV positive as a "death sentence", provided they live in a country with freely accessible adherence support, information and treatment.

This is according to AVERT programme and information officer Laura Craggs, who claimed this "has been known in the HIV/Aids world for quite some time".

A study published in the British Medical Journal found sufferers of this condition have a life expectancy that is 15 years longer than they would have had if they were diagnosed with it in 1996.

Somebody aged 20 who was infected with the virus in 1996 could have expected to live until they were 30, but this has now risen to almost 46, the researchers discovered.

The investigation, which was led by Dr Margaret May of the University of Bristol's School of Social and Community Medicine, involved an analysis of 17,661 patients' data, seven per cent of whom passed on between 1996 and 2008.

HIV is currently "a chronic disease with a good prognosis", providing that proper medical help is acquired at an early stage of the illness and antiretroviral treatment is utilised, the study claimed.

Starting this therapy at a later stage can cut as much as 15 years from a person's lifespan, the research revealed.

This demonstrates the urgency of raising the public's knowledge of the efficacy of modern-day treatments, which ought to "increase rates of routine HIV screening", researchers from Boston said in an accompanying editorial.

Ms Craggs seconded this, adding that support and targeted prevention strategies would also be useful "for specific population groups".

She noted a significant portion of HIV-positive individuals who have been receiving medical assistance for lengthy periods of time have generally noticed the "advances and effectiveness of treatment".

Furthermore, people who have recently been informed they have the condition might not understand "just how effective treatment can be if followed correctly", Ms Craggs continued.

Support in adherence could also be useful as it can help to reduce the likelihood of drug resistance occuring, the expert pointed out.

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