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Worried about life expectancy
Apr 1, 2012

I'm a 27 year old South African female who was diagnosed last year in July. My CD4 count is 1594/ml, my doctor says that's quite good and I'm not allowed to go on treatment until it reaches <300/ml. I want to know what is my life expectancy is. I'm very depressed. I always wanted children but I'm afraid to have them in fear of leaving them without a mother.

This sickness has paralyzed me, or to be more precise, I have paralyzed myself. I can't see myself getting married or having a fulfilled life even though my results are good. I have retirement annuities and investments and I'm thinking of cancelling it because I'm afraid that I'm not going to make it to retirement age.. lol.

What I want to know is how long will it be before I reach that stage where I have to go on treatment? and how long can I live with given my age and CD4 count.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thank you for writing. It is fortunate that you are under medical care while your immune system is highly functioning. You will be much better able to preserve your health by taking care of yourself with the guidance of your doctors.

It is absolutely normal for anyone testing positive for the HIV virus to have a number of different reactions, including extreme emotions. Hopes and plans for our future are suddenly cast into doubt and we grab onto anything specific that can provide guidance. Unfortunately, no one can say with any certainty how long it might take before you require treatment or how long you will live. There are statistical averages for various countries (and they are improving, by the way) but they are just that: averages. It is a mistake to take an actuarial figure and accept it as a fact for our lives.

I would encourage you to live your life as fully as you can. Work, have a family, laugh, and love. The greatest tragedy would be to surrender your life to HIV while you are still young, healthy, and have a full life ahead of you.

Be certain to connect with others who share your experience - you will find great strength in their experiences and give much in return.

Take care,

-David



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