Date: 5/13/2013
Creator: Leah Brown
Source: Science Magazine
Date of Publication: 22 February 2013
Source Type: Literature
Link: Article abstract

A study conducted by former GRS intern, Jacob Bor, examines the impact of South Africa’s public-sector scale-up of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) on adult life expectancy.  Using data from a large population cohort, changes in life expectancy were tracked from 2000-2011 in Kwazulu-Natal, a setting with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in South Africa. The study indicates that government expansion of ART—first publicly available in SA in 2004—has significantly affected life expectancy in South African populations “hardest-hit” by HIV:

  • Between 2000 and 2003 (pre-public ART) life expectancy declined by 3+ years for men and women.
  • In 2004 (first year of widespread government-issued ART), life expectancy began to rise.
  • By 2011, more than a third of HIV+ community members had enrolled in ART, and average life expectancy for men and women increased by 11.3 years.
  • Accounting for increased productivity associated with increased life-years, SA’s expanded ART programmes are highly cost-effective.


  • Expanded ART treatment expected to affect similar changes in comparable communities across SA.
  • More and better up-take of ARTs may enable increased governmental focus on prevention efforts.
  • Increased life expectancy means increased returns from investment in education of all kinds.
  • Increased life expectancy may entail resumption of inter-generational knowledge transmission interrupted by HIV epidemic.