Antiretrovirals (ARVs) added 9 to 11 years of life expectancy to HIV-positive South Africans who began treatment between 2004 and 2011, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, investigators analyzed data collected by the South African Catholic Bishops Conference and used the Cost-Effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications-International model of HIV disease and treatment (CEPAC) to project how rolling out ARVs affected the population.

South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV of any country, at 5.6 million. About 2.8 million qualify for ARV treatment, although a third of them are not receiving therapy.

Just 50,000 people in the country started taking ARVs in 2004, a number that swelled to 557,000 in 2011. By the latter year, a total 2,222,700 had begun ARVs over the whole period of time. People with HIV could expect to live another two years on average if they were not on ARVs and 11 to 13 years if they were.

ARVs saved an estimated 21.7 million life years during this period.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read a sample of the accompanying editorial, click here.