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How long to live?
May 11, 2004

My brother said he was HIV+ 4 months ago, and since then he has been hospitalized twice (pneumonia and massive ear infection). He can't start HIV "cocktail" until all infection is gone. He's gone from 160 lbs to 125 and seems really sick. Any average estimate on how long he might live with appropriate health care? Thanks from a concerned sister!

Response from Dr. Pierone

Even people that have life-threatening infection and extremely low CD4 counts when newly diagnosed with AIDS can recover completely and return to health. This is dependant upon a number of factors, the most important of which is the ability to adhere to antiretroviral therapy on a long-term basis.

The notion that one cannot start an HIV cocktail until an opportunistic infection has been cured is nonsense. In fact, starting medications for HIV infection may be an essential part of recovery from a serious infection.

In terms of long-term prognosis there are no set limits. The key is for your brother to get through this crisis and establish with a clinic or doctor expert in HIV care. Then he will need to do his part - get educated about HIV and take his medications without fail. Best of luck!


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