Life span of HIV
Oct 26, 2006
I've read with interest some of the emails about HIV hiding out while a nondetectable status has been reached. I'm curious though as to what the life span of HIV is, that is, how long does it have to live if it doesn't infect another cell? and if it has a definite life span, then hiding out would certainly lead it to an inevitable death. Thanks
Response from Dr. Conway
The length of time that HIV can lie is fully dependent on the lifespan of the cell that it has infected. Some of the cells turn over with a half-life as long as 18 months. meaning that half the cells die off over this period of time. Given this, it would take as long as 70 years for all the cells to die off, taking all the HIV they contain with them. As long as someone is on effective antiretroviral treatment, the virus these cells contain poses no threat to the infected person, as the drugs prevent it from replicating. However, if someone were to go off treatment, this virus would replicate and re-populate all the body reservoirs of HIV. This would tehn lead to a reduction in the CD4 count and disease progression. This is probably the main reason that, once treatment is started, it should be continued indefinitely...or at least for 70 years!!!
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