Having diabetes now reduces your life expectancy more than HIV

Assuming you are British and have access to antiretrovirals. Even with these caveats, what my friend Benjamin Krishna set out in a post about antiretrovirals is still impressive:

…the life expectancy of a  patient who is HIV positive, who is receiving antiviral treatment in the UK, is the same as anyone in the general population. The life expectancy of a person with diabetes, however, is shorter than the general population by up to ten years for type II and twenty years for type I. Although much can still be done to treat people with both diseases, the improvement in life expectancy for a patient with HIV is remarkable.

The life expectancy for an HIV positive patient without treatment is 3 years after diagnosis. In 1990 with basic treatment, this has increased to 59 years of age. Now life expectancy for those with HIV and receiving treatment is simply labelled as ‘normal’. The incidence of HIV has been reduced thanks to public health campaigns, changes in attitude to homosexuality and government policies. HIV life expectancy has increased thanks to greatly improved antiviral drugs. In many ways our ability to treat HIV infections is one of the miracles of modern science.

All this surprised me but I’m not sure it should have. That in a rich country like Britain, medicine should afford us very good protection against an infectious disease but be far less effective against a condition strongly correlated with eating too much and consuming too little is very much in keeping with broader trends.

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