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LIFE SPAN SINCE 2000
Dec 30, 2011

I HAVE BEEN HIV+ SINCE 2000, IT IS NOW GOING TO BE 12 YEARS LATER. I AM DOING WELL AND DID NOT BEGIN HIV MEDS UNTIL 2009. SINCE 2000 TO 2009 MY CD4 WERE HIGH AND VL LOW SO NO NEED FOR IT. I AM IN GOOD SHAPE AND HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD LIFE (WHICH I FEEL IS OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE TO BEAT THE DISEASE); I MEAN I COULD GET HIT BY A BUS TOMORROW. LOL. ANYWAY, FOR DISEASE PROGRESSION IS IT BECAUSE ALL BODYS ARE DIFFERENT THAT I DID NOT HAVE TO BEGIN TREATMENT FOR A LONG TIME? I DID NOT NEED TO IN 2009 EITHER, BUT DISCUSSED WITH MY DOCTOR AND I FELT THAT SINCE MY IMMUNE SYSTEM IS ALREADY STRONG, I CAN KEEP IT 'SUPER STRONG'. DID I MAKE A MISTAKE IN DOING SO? NOW, I ENDED UP WITH PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY. COULD IT HAVE BEEN 'ATRIPLA' RELATED. HAVING SAID ALL THIS, WHAT ARE THE 'EXPERTS' LIFE SPAN NOW AT THIS POINT FOR SOMEONE AS MYSELF? I am considering becoming an HIV+ educator to focus on the good things in life as a whole. Isn't it that life's problems, diseases, financial problems, etc. only consist of maybe approx. 8% of your life and the other 92% are the great things and how you handle the 8%.

Response from Dr. McGowan

I like your attitude, and I agree it makes a big difference on how people handle life's stresses.

There is a "balance" that develops in each person between their immune system and HIV. Your body was able to contain the virus for many years. Perhaps if you got infected by a different "strain" that may or may not have had teh same balance. There is a cost of this containment...your body has to expand some energy and generates some "inflammation" to contain the virus. This immune activated state can cause some long-term problems, so I do think it was a good idea to knock out the virus and let this activation calm down.

Life expectancy figures look great with HIV on treatment. Some recent studies have shown that if you can keep the virus undetectable and the CD4 count above 500...after 5 years the expected lifespan is back to normal, which is very good news.

Happy New Year, Joe



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