The survival benefits of AIDS treatment in the United States

J Infect Dis. 2006 Jul 1;194(1):11-9. doi: 10.1086/505147. Epub 2006 Jun 1.


Background: As widespread adoption of potent combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) reaches its tenth year, our objective was to quantify the cumulative survival benefits of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) care in the United States.

Methods: We defined eras corresponding to advances in standards of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease care, including opportunistic infection prophylaxis, treatment with ART, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (pMTCT) of HIV. Per-person survival benefits for each era were determined using a mathematical simulation model. Published estimates provided the number of adult patients with new diagnoses of AIDS who were receiving care in the United States from 1989 to 2003.

Results: Compared with survival associated with untreated HIV disease, per-person survival increased 0.26 years with Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia prophylaxis alone. Four eras of increasingly effective ART in addition to prophylaxis resulted in per-person survival increases of 7.81, 11.05, 11.57, and 13.33 years, compared with the absence of treatment. Treatment for patients with AIDS in care in the United States since 1989 yielded a total survival benefit of 2.8 million years. pMTCT averted nearly 2900 infant infections, equivalent to 137,000 additional years of survival benefit.

Conclusions: At least 3.0 million years of life have been saved in the United States as a direct result of care of patients with AIDS, highlighting the significant advances made in HIV disease treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / economics
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Models, Biological*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • United States


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents