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new diagnosis- life expectancy
Oct 26, 2002

i compete nationally for my university track team. i have just become infected with hiv. how long and what kind of life can i expect to live. With modern treatments, can i expect to live until i'm 70?

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your question.

I'll assume that you're in your 20's and were relatively recently infected. To answer your question in a nutshell-- I expect and counsel persons like yourself that you should have long term survival that can likely be measured in decades, yes, even perhaps into your 60's and 70's with a little luck and some hard medical work.

There are many variables that contribute to the life expectancy for those infected with HIV. Firstly, your current CD4 count and viral load have a lot to do with how fast disease will progres. With an average viral load (about 50,000), most persons will progress to AIDS in about 8 years. For persons with lower viral loads, the rate is slower, for those with higher loads, progression is faster.

Having access to well trained, qualified healthcare providers is the next essential step in assuring the longest possible survival-- I'd strongly suggest making sure that your HIV clinician has experience and gets ongoing training in new developments. Picking the right medications and monitoring things correctly are key components to clinical success. You can contact your local AIDS service organization for the scoop on who is well respected in your area.

Lastly, if and when it becomes time to start on medications, figuring out adherence is essential to having the drugs work optimally and to preserve future treatment options.

Good luck and here's wishing for your 70th birthday. -BY



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