|How long will I live?
Oct 3, 2008
I was recently diagnosed with HIV. I've heard you can live a full life if you take the meds right with no side effects. How long can you live if that is true? and how long if you cant handle the meds and side effects? Thanks. James
Response from Dr. Sherer
There were important data presented at the World AIDS Conference in Mexico City in August on this question. The US CDC found that life expectancy increased from 1998 to 2004 from 10.8 years to 20.1 years for a 35 year old male with HIV infection.
The MACS study comparing HIV+ and HIV- gay men found that a man with HIV infection and withOUT an AIDS defining illness had an average life expectancy of 69 years, compared to 79 years for an HIV negative man. On the other hand, a man WITH an AIDS-defining illness had an average life expectancy of 49 years. This finding dramatizes the importance of early testing and getting onto ART BEFORE an AIDS-defining illness occurs. Unfortunately in the US and in the world, the majority of people treated with HIV have less than 200 CD4 cells, and too many are treated with ART after an AIDS defining illness.
Also of interest in that study, only 29% of deaths in HIV+ men were due to AIDS defning illnesses, and 71% were due to non-AIDS causes of death such as heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and kidney disease.
So, you are right. There have been dramatic improvements in life expectancy for people on HAART successfully, though not quite as good as in HIV negative individuals. People living with HIV should also carefully note that twice as many people with HIV are dying from non-AIDS conditions, and they should take active steps to reduce their risk of these conditions while worrying about adherence to HIV medications - i.e. stop smoking, avoid or reverse obesity, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, control blood pressure, etc. I urge you, and all people with HIV, to talk to their doctors about these important new data.
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