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Life span after starting medication
May 17, 2009

Dear doctors,

i am 27 yr old female from India tested HIV positive in the year 2005 .Unfortunately i came to know this in 2008 as my father kept it confidential becuase the people mistreats positive people here in India .I am still a virgin and never had sex with anybody .the only possible way of getting that may be the RCT treatment for my tooth in 1999.My CD4 count was 392 and Vl 500 in 2008 and doctor told me that there is no need to start treatment that time. Now recently i went for CD4 test and it came out as 170.just to let you know i got herpes Zoster 2 yrs back and am suffering with Hydradinitis from past 12 yrs (I know that there is no cure for this disease). Now i guess there is no other way rather than starting medicine. but i heard that once i start medication i can live only for 11 yrs (this was told by my doctor).Here in India we dont have good specialists for HIV(may be there but i dont know).So can you please tell me my lifespan if i start medicine and also I am taking very good food these days so, will it help in regaining my CD4 count higher.Thanks a lot for your answers

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thank you for questions. I agree with you that your CD4 count of 170 does mean that you should start anti-HIV treatment. I think if you are able to start a potent anti-HIV combination of three active HIV drugs, and you remain adherent to this regimen, you should have an excellent response both in terms of getting the HIV down to what is termed "undetectable" levels and improving your immune system by increasing your CD4 count. Improving your CD4 count will reduce your risk of getting complications from your HIV infection. Estimating life span is not always easy, but there was one study from Europe that estimated that an individual diagnosed in his/her 20s with HIV who starts appropriate treatment at the appropriate time, would have a life span that stretches into his/her late 50s, early 60s. The estimates of life expectancy with HIV continue to rise each year. The most important thing you can do is not to despair, get into care as you have done, start anti-HIV treatment, monitor the response to treatment carefully and retain a positive attitude with healthy eating...all of which you have or are planning to do. Best of luck Joe



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