Drs. Rochelle Walensky, Kenneth Freedberg and colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also estimate drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV have averted 2,900 infant infections, saving an additional 137,000 years of life.
The disease model used by the scientists suggests a person initiating HIV therapy in 2003 could expect to live more than 13 years longer than if he or she had been diagnosed in 1988.
"As new HIV therapies have come into the clinic, we have witnessed the transformation of HIV/AIDS from a rapidly fatal disease into a controllable condition," said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. "Although the rate of new infections in this country remains unacceptably high, for many people HIV infection is no longer the death sentence it once was."
The researchers used a computer model developed by Freedberg and colleagues that incorporates literature-based data of clinical measures to simulate HIV disease progression both with and without treatment.
The study has been made available online by The Journal of Infectious Diseases.