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"Near-normal" lifespan
Mar 19, 2008

Hi Dr. Ben,

I often see the statement that people with HIV who are on treatment, who live a healthy lifestyle, etc., can expect to live a "near-normal" lifespan or have a "near-normal" life-expectancy. You said a similar thing in answer to a question on March 16. I've always wondered: what does this mean? What do you consider "near-normal?" If the normal lifespan for a given population is 78, for example, do you think most patients in this category will live to 68? Or 75? Or 78 minus 1 day?

Or will there be many members of this group for whom their lifespan is ACTUALLY normal -- maybe the ones with an unusually good response to meds, or something like that?

Sorry if it seems like I'm picking nits, but I'd just like to have an idea what my fiancee and I are realistically looking at in terms of our life together, now that we know she's pos. (BTW, her response to treatment has been amazing. She went from 227 CD4 cells to 618 in a period of 5 months, and she has no other risk factors that I know of. She's 29 now.)

As always, thanks for the work you do. Your column has comforted me and provided inspiration many times.

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post and words.

I think that you're overthinking this admittedly important point (you call it nitpicking).

Like any forecast-- these are just predictions. So when I say normal or near-normal, I mean that I don't expect HIV to be a thing that limits the quantity or quality of life. That said, I think that it would be irresponsible to suggest that there is no way that HIV MIGHT have some long-range effect decades from now that we simply are ignorant to today.

I wish you and your fiancee a long, and healthy life together.


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