PLHIV have lower health quality of life despite treatment

26 September 2014
An HIV ribbon

People living with HIV (PLHIV) who are on antiretroviral treatment (ART) and have achieved viral suppression, still have a lower health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) than those in the general population. Data from the UK shows that despite life expectancy for PLHIV nearly equalling the general population, morbidity is still an important issue.

A recent study published in the journal, Lancet HIV, assessed whether or not PLHIV have similar HRQoL than that of the general population, accounting for significant variables such as age, sex, demographic, education and smoking status. HRQoL was measured using the Euroqol questionnaire (EQ-5D-3L), which measures five health indicators including mobility, self-care, ability to do usual activities, pain or discomfort, and anxiety or depression. Across all of these domains, PLHIV had a lower HRQoL than that of the general UK population with self-reported depression or anxiety having a substantial impact. The difference was significant even after accounting for socio-demographic factors, and was apparent regardless of CD4 count, viral load, and antiretroviral therapy.

This study is the largest to look at the differences in the health quality of life between PLHIV and the general population in a context where there is universal access to healthcare. Despite advances in highly active antiretroviral therapy meaning that people living with HIV are living longer, morbidity is still a major issue. Morbidity, associated with depression and anxiety, remain the biggest problem. Treatment programmes should recognise this in order to improve morbidity for people living with HIV.

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