>NY Times: AIDS patients face downside of living longer

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Published: January 6, 2008

CHICAGO — John Holloway received a diagnosis of AIDS nearly two decades ago, when the disease was a speedy death sentence and treatment a distant dream.

Yet at 59 he is alive, thanks to a cocktail of drugs that changed the course of an epidemic. But with longevity has come a host of unexpected medical conditions, which challenge the prevailing view of AIDS as a manageable, chronic disease.

Mr. Holloway, who lives in a housing complex designed for the frail elderly, suffers from complex health problems usually associated with advanced age: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, kidney failure, a bleeding ulcer, severe depression, rectal cancer and the lingering effects of a broke hip.

Those illnesses, more severe than his 84-year-old father’s, are not what Mr. Holloway expected when lifesaving antiretroviral drugs became the standard of care in the mid-1990s.

The drugs gave Mr. Holloway back his future.

But at what cost?

That is the question, heretical to some, that is now being voiced by scientists, doctors and patients encountering a constellation of ailments showing up prematurely or in disproportionate numbers among the first wave of AIDS survivors to reach late middle age.

Read more here.

All this got me thinking if there could ever be a drug that would fight the progression of HIV/AIDS without causing more physical deterioration of a patient’s body. Should patients have to choose between living longer with “minor” ailments compared to having a relatively shorter life-span with a disease that literally eats away at their immune system?