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Study says AIDS drugs can raise life expectancy in Africa

[ 2011-07-20 11:02]     字号 [] [] []  
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Study says AIDS drugs can raise life expectancy in Africa

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Scientists say a study in Africa shows that AIDS drugs can increase life expectancy in patients to nearly normal levels.

One of the authors was Dr. Jean Nachega of South Africa's Stellenbosch University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

JEAN NACHEGA: The overall key finding of our study is that the patient in Africa receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV can expect to live a near-normal lifespan."

The study was released in Rome this week at a conference of the International AIDS Society. The findings appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Over the last 30 years, the HIV/AIDS epidemic cut 15 to 20 years or more from life expectancy rates in Africa. Dr. Nachega says in many countries these rates had risen sharply.

JEAN NACHEGA: "All what we've been able to gain in the past with the access to clean water, expanded immunization programs were totally reversed with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. So now we are seeing some good news that investing in antiretroviral programs, those investments are now paying off."

The study took place in Uganda. There, life expectancy at birth is an average of about 55 years.

The study involved 22,000 patients being treated for HIV. The results were promising but were different for men and women.

At age 20, life expectancy for men was another 19 years. Women could expect to live 30 more years. At age 35, men could expect to live to 57. Women could expect to live to 67.

Dr. Nachega says men generally start treatment later than women. By then the disease is less treatable.

JEAN NACHEGA: "Men spend more time looking for a job and spending more time away from their family to try to find a way to survive, I think may be one of the [reasons]. The second reason is obviously the issue about stigma, which is still quite affecting a majority of people in the community."

Also, programs for pregnant women mean that women have more chances to get tested for HIV and to receive treatment.

Dr. Nachega says health officials need to deal with this "gender imbalance." He supports the idea of considering treatment for HIV/AIDS as a form of prevention.

JEAN NACHEGA: "We should no longer see treatment and prevention totally separately. Treatment, by itself, it is also part of prevention. Because by treating people, and hopefully treating them earlier, they are less likely to transmit the virus to their sexual partner."

Studies also show that giving antiretroviral drugs to uninfected people can help protect them from HIV. Two studies released last week found that taking medication daily reduced the risk of infection in heterosexuals. An earlier study showed that it reduced the risk among gay men.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report. I'm Steve Ember.

antiretroviral: 抗逆转录病毒

stigma: feelings of disapproval that people have about particular illnesses or ways of behaving 耻辱;羞耻

heterosexuals: 异性恋

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(来源:VOA 编辑:实习生高美)