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Dying with HIV
May 9, 2012

I appreciate this can be read as a morbid question, but it's something that I have started thinking about in recent months. I am 58 years and have had Hiv for the past 4 years, been on Atripla, have unmeasureable viral load, and am very healthy. I read recently that Hiv+ people, on their meds have a life expectancy similar to non Hiv people, however I am still unsure about how the majority of people wth Hiv die? Do the majority still ultimately submit to an AIDS related condition and waste away?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

Firstly, people living with HIV who get tested, get into- and stay in care and have access to HIV medications can and do live normal life times. A really important issue is that as many as 25% of the US HIV+ population doesn't know their status, and another ~25% who know their status don't get HIV medical care.

Among those who stay in care, life expectancy is essentially normal and the causes of death are very rarely AIDS related. Indeed, common causes of death among positives in care are more related to things like the general population (heart, liver disease, cancer, to name a few). This is topic of intense interest and monitoring.

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