New Data Highlights People Living With HIV Who Are Virally Suppressed Experience Similar Health-related Quality of Life as General Population

16 June 2022 | Thursday | News

Data in Taiwan Shows That Antiretroviral Therapies Have Helped Transform HIV Into a Chronic Condition and Bring Positive Change in the Outlook for People Living with HIV –
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

Gilead Sciences, Inc. today announced results from an online survey that assessed the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among people living with HIV (PLWH) in Taiwan who are virally suppressed as compared to the general population. The data shows that those who are virally suppressed experience similar HRQOL as the general population and highlights the importance of evaluating an individual’s quality of life, including both physical and mental health-related issues, beyond viral suppression. The findings will be presented at the virtual Asia-Pacific AIDS and Co-Infections Conference (APACC) 2022, taking place 16 June to 18 June.


“For many years, PLWH have been challenged by fear of the future and uncertainty about their life expectancy. This has been compounded by feelings of stigmatization that have made individuals with HIV reluctant to disclose their condition publicly. However, with the high efficacy and improved tolerability of HIV treatments in recent years, the virus can be suppressed to a point where the disease can now be viewed as a chronic condition,” said Dr Chien-Yu Cheng, co-author of the study and  Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Taoyuan General Hospital. “Self-reported outcomes by PLWH in our survey show that they can enjoy a similar quality of life to those without the disease. This is remarkable and an encouraging call for the clinical community to support their clients to achieve success in viral suppression.”


The online survey interviewed 120 virally suppressed PLWH in Taiwan and compared their self-reported HRQOL with that of the general population. The study, conducted between July to October 2021, measured HRQOL according to the EQ-5D-5L questionnaire, developed by EuroQOL, an international group of multidisciplinary researchers. The EQ-5D-5L is a standardized model that describes quality of life according to five dimensions – mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression. Respondents in the survey (n=120) generally reported high levels (median 80%) of self-perceived HRQOL. Detailed evaluation revealed discrepancies across different dimensions - higher level of HRQOL were reported in mobility, self-care and usual activities (such as carrying out duties at work, doing household chores and participating in leisure activities) while HRQOL were less optimal in the areas of pain/discomfort as well as anxiety/depression.


“Whilst findings of the study show a positive improvement in quality of life for those living with HIV in Taiwan, the data also shows that more work such as multidisciplinary team intervention is needed to support this community of patients in aging well,” said Dr Chia-Jui Yang, co-author of the study and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Far Eastern Memorial Hospital.


Investigators believed that while some of these symptoms may be attributed to COVID-19, given the impact on mental wellness of the general population also reported during the pandemic, societal factors such as stigmatization in PLWH can affect mental well-being as more than two-thirds of respondents said they do not feel supported by society.


“Although chronic HIV care settings provide an opportunity to support and integrate the management of mental health conditions among PLWH, this is often overlooked by health systems,” said Caroline Choi, Senior Director, Asia Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “We support the recently published recommendations made by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization that emphasize the importance of integrating HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and mental health services for PLWH.” 


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