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I was diagnosed with AIDS then started treatment
Dec 6, 2003

In January I was diagnosed with a cd4 count of 50 and a viral load off the charts. I was hospitialized with PCP spent weeks in the hospitial and was on my death bed. Since then I started a drug regime of sustiva and combivir. I am doing great with decent labs. My question is since I was diagonsed with AIDS then started a drug regime have I reduced my life expectancy to less than 10 years. I am 31 years old but should I start preparing myself and family for the fact that I will not reach retirement more or less live long enough to enjoy benefits of a long life. Will the fact that I had AIDS but I am responding to treatment for now change my life expectancy than someone who is HIV poz but did not progress to AIDS.

I am so confused about my future that any advise would help but I need to hear the truth.

Thanks

TK in Florida

Response from Dr. Pierone

Hello, glad to hear that you are responding well to therapy. No way have you reduced your life expectancy to less than 10 years because of an AIDS diagnosis.

Our team takes care of many patients that had PCP in 1996 or 97 with CD4 counts less than 100 and very high viral load results. At 6 to 7 years follow up the average CD4 count is about 400 and viral load is undetectable. On average, their CD4 cells have modestly increased year after year and this increase in immune function show no signs of letting up. They have achieved this success despite starting off on significantly more difficult HIV therapy early on. Certainly they show no signs of dying anytime soon and are enjoying life and planning for retirement.

We had other patients that were in a similar situation in 1996 and 97, but died from AIDS years ago. The reason that some died and others are thriving is related to one simple difference. The ones that are living today and doing well have taken their HIV medications every day without fail since they were diagnosed. This doesn't mean that they are on the same regimen, their medications have been adjusted over the years as newer and better drugs have become available. You can count on being on a different regimen 6 or 7 years from now as even better treatments are developed. The truth is that you can count on being here long into the future if you have the will and discipline to stick with a daily program of medications. Best wishes and let us know how things go. GP



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