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How Long Have I Been Positive?
Jun 21, 2006

First of all - I love THE BODY! It has given me a lot of hope and knowledge about my disease.

Having struggled with some fatigue, constant thrush and a weird rash for 6 months, my doctor recommended an HIV test. To my shock I tested positive and then found out a month later that my T-Cells were at 20 with a viral load of 12,000. I immediately went on meds. I was monogomously married for 20 years. After the divorce I had a couple of wild nights (a 2 year time span). So, my question is...what is your best estimate of when I got infected? Currently my viral load is undetectable and my T-Cells are around 50. I keep getting shingles, but otherwise I've stayed totally healthy (even when other got sick around me) and continued working full time. I'm not afraid of having this disease, since it allows me to more fully enjoy the "daily" stuff about life, knowing that my time could be limited. Better this way, than being miserable every day and then getting hit by a bus, huh?! Also, I'm wondering why my T-Cells are going up so slowly...I've been on meds seven months. I'm not too concerned about numbers, but my support system is frustrated - go figure!

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post and comments.

As always, I'm sorry to hear about recent HIV+ diagnoses.

It's really difficult to try to estimate the duration of HIV infection-- though it's understandable why you might want to know. On average, it takes years (~5-8) to progress from initial infection to AIDS; though a significant number of HIV+ will progress in less than a couple of years. What would make the later case unusual in your situation is your relatively low HIV viral load (since rapid progessors tend to have high- >100,000 viral loads). Hence, it's entirely possible to me that your "wild nights" might be responsible, though I cannot rule out the possibility that you got infected prior to that.

It's heartening to hear that you've gotten on medications and that your viral load has dropped promptly. Keep up the work with the adherence. I'm confident that your health (and CD4s) will improve. BY



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