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Life Span Of PWA
Aug 24, 2005

Hi:

I have been HIV+ and fairly healthy for 12 years. I've had my T-cells drop below 200 for a time, so technically I have AIDS. However, my partner of 8 years passed away from AIDS a year and a half ago. He had been positive exactly 8 years when he died of Burkitts Lymphoma. He had never been sick before developing Burkitts. It started as a stomach ache in August 2003 and he was dead by the end of January 2004.

My question is this: What is the average life expectancy of someone diagnosed with HIV? I have asked my Dr. and several people at AIDS agencies in L.A., but all I get is this sugar coated Pollyanna response. "Treatment options are getting...bla, bla, bla." I want the cold hard facts. I suppose I could go to the CDC web site and search around forever and find them. But I thought I would give you a try.

I want to know because I think it would be a great motivating factor for me to do things in my life NOW, before it is too late.

Thanks

Response from Dr. Henry

Effective HIV therapy has only been available for around 9-10 years so predicting the future for 10-30+ years based on hard data is not possible. For patients starting effective HIV treatment who suppress their HIV levels to < 50 copies/ml without any drug resistance the long term prognosis looks good (though likely not as good if CD4 cells don't rebound >> 200 cells/mm3). Data has shown that a person who takes medications at near 100% with HIV levels < 50 copies/ml without resistance has only 5% or less chance to fail that regimen yearly which translates to a good 10+ year prognosis from the HIV standpoint (so need to focus on heart disease and cancer prevention as well and mental health support!). I expect many/most of my patients who are doing well to attend a retirement party for me in 20+ years!? KH



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