What is it about?

People living with HIV (PLWH) live longer with advances in antiretroviral therapy to treat HIV. However, living longer implies that PLWH are more likely to develop aging-related diseases (aka chronic comorbidities ). In our case, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) is a measure of the impact of the burden of a disease that combines years of life lost due to premature death and years living not in perfect health due to chronic comorbidities. In this study, we compared the DALYs of PLWH and a sample of the general population in British Columbia (BC), Canada. We were interested in non-AIDS-defining cancers, diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension, dementia, cardiovascular, kidney, liver and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. We found that PLWH experienced a two-fold higher DALY than HIV-negative. Non-AIDS-defining cancers and cardiovascular disease contributed the highest DALYs in both populations, driven by premature mortality.

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Why is it important?

As aging shapes future healthcare needs, our findings highlight the need to enhance prevention and management of comorbidities as part of HIV care.


Identifying the best interventions to prevent or delay the onset of comorbidities is now a priority. With the demographic shift towards a higher proportion of older people throughout Canada, and especially in BC, some worry about the sustainability of healthcare systems. Until a cure for HIV is found, key HIV organizations agree that there is an urgent need for new research on policy and program interventions to help PLWH age in as healthy a manner as possible.

Dr. Viviane Lima
British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

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This page is a summary of: Disability-adjusted life years associated with chronic comorbidities among people living with and without HIV: Estimating health burden in British Columbia, Canada, PLOS Global Public Health, October 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0001138.
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