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AIDS & Life Span
Apr 17, 2008

I have searched and read many of the q & a's on the life span of AIDS patients. But most refer to those living with HIV. My son was diagnosed as HIV+, but come to find out, he was actually already in full blown AIDS--his CD4 stayed well below 200 for at least 9 months. In fact, most of that time it was below 100. He was sent home to us and a doctor set us up with hospice care and said there was nothing that could be done. I finally found another doctor that treated him. He is now on Atripla and his CD4 is way above 200-the doctor says the virus is almost non-detectable. I asked the doctor if he was HIV+ again, and he said no, because if he were to stop the medicine, he would be back in full blown AIDS. I know that medical technology is changing on a daily basis. So with all of that, what does this mean in terms of his life span?

Response from Dr. Moyle

Your son has been fortunate to find a doctor who has looked after him so well. If he were to stop his treatment he would indeed see a fall in his CD4 count and be at risk of further illness and HIV-related death. If his viral load is now undetectable on Atripla then he should continue to respond as long as he takes every dose every day. His CD4 count will continue to rise for at least 5 years after starting treatment and should get back above 450, the normal range. There are several factors that influence CD4 recovery, starting with a low CD4 count means that his CD4 may not recover into the 1000+ range but it will still get to normal. The younger he is the better the CD4 rise is likely to be. If he can sustain his adherence to Atripla it should keep on working. Reent data projects that even young people with HIV, as long as there are no additional problems like hepatitis, will have a good chance of having a normal or near normal life expectancy if the keep taking their medications. And of course over your son's long lifespan, treatments are likely to get better still. Best Wishes Graeme Moyle



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