Cost Effectiveness

The pandemic of AIDS is costly in life, quality of life and medical expenditures.  The average patient with CDC-defined AIDS may be expected to average two to three hospitalizations per year at a cost of $50,000 per hospitalization.  In 1997, one million people worldwide died annually from AIDS.  There were over 40,000 new infections in the U.S. in 1995 with a trend among young gay males, teenagers, and women. According to UNAIDS, the epidemic claimed approximately 2.8 million lives in 2005. However, many people do not die of AIDS; they die, strictly speaking, of opportunistic infections caused by AIDS. Additionally, frequently official records are vague to protect others associated with the patient from the stigma of the disease. In other words, there are many undiagnosed cases of death from AIDS and the true death toll is vastly underestimated.72

In a study looking at the management of 12 patients with HIV/AIDS who were not pursuing a standard antiviral pharmaceutical regimen (protease inhibitors), patients received HBOT consistently for three years or longer.  Treatment was administered by hood in a multiplace chamber three times per week, 100% O2 at 2.5 ATA for 45 minutes.

HBOT is cost effective, saving between $50,000-75,000 annually when compared with the current medical standard of care (i.e., pharmaceutical “cocktails”).

About 30 million people have been infected with HIV.  About 750,000 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in North America.  A patient is considered to be HIV positive when the level of T cells, an immune system cell, drops to less than 200 in every milliliter of blood.  There are at least 25 opportunistic infections, three of which are Kaposi’s sarcoma—a viral infection that may also involve the lymph nodes and other organs, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)—a form of pneumonia that generally affects both lungs, and mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)—a bacterial infection that causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.  In people with AIDS, MAC affects organs throughout the body.73

HIV and its cofactors, the other viruses that often accompany HIV, also damage the cells that line the blood vessels (endothelial cells).  The damage results in blockages of both small and large vessels and reduces blood flow to the limbs, brain, and heart.  Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)—mini-strokes, stroke, and heart attacks are common in HIV patients.  TIAs may occur daily and result in mental impairment, loss of muscle control and decreased memory and ability to function in daily life.74

  1. HBOT can overcome the hypoxia from blood vessel damage.
  2. HBOT reduces the severity of the secondary complications and/or opportunistic infections.
  3. Blood-vessel blockages produced by herpes and other viruses have been treated and relieved by HBOT.75
  4. HBOT can aid people with strokes, TIAs, and peripheral vascular disease—so HBOT treats all these symptoms with people who have AIDS.
  5. One protocol for a man who had had a cerebral hemorrhage due to AIDS, received HBOT daily, for one hour at 2.0 ATA.
  6. Kaposi’s sarcoma is linked to one of the several human herpes viruses.  It is a virus that attacks the blood vessels and causes purplish lesions internally and externally.  It is often treated with chemotherapy and radiation. HBOT is recommended as an adjunct treatment to reduce the side effects of these therapies.
  7. HBOT is used to treat Kaposi’s sarcoma and used in combination with alpha-interferon injections with synergistic effects.
  8. PCP kills about 60 percent of people with HIV/AIDS despite preventative drug protocols with Bactrim, Dapsone, or aerosol-form pentamidine.  HBOT given 3x/week is an adjunct to preventative drug therapy.
  9. MAC is another opportunistic infection that can cause organ failure and often occurs even in patients who are on a preventative drug regimen. HBOT is well documented in treating tuberculosis caused by MAC and shown to help as an adjunctive therapy.

In summary, HBOT used as an ongoing treatment prolongs the quantity and quality of life, alleviates blood vessel problems with HIV and herpes infections, enhances drug therapies and reduces adverse side effects of medications and other treatments.  It shortens the length of life-threatening infections. The dose of HBOT used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS depends on the individual’s condition, how severe the condition is and what other therapies are being used.

73Neubauer, 137-132.
74Ibid., 129.
75Jain, 2004, 317-341.