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Spread on Asymptomatic period length
Jul 27, 1998

Dear Panel,

Recently I joined the ranks of positives after a heterosexual encounter with a high-risk individual in Thailand.

I see that "10 years" is quoted as the average length of the asymptomatic period.

Are there any proper statistics on this? Would the be information about standard deviation as well?

I do suspect that 10 years is a "kind" average, and the real figure might be much lover? Am I wrong?

Thank you for a great service!

Frank

Response from Dr. Cohen

Frank -

The key in helping to know how long the asymptomatic period is on average likely to be in an individual is based on two numbers - the CD4 count and the viral load. The higher the CD4 count, the more cells you have to protect against infection, and the longer you will stay well. But the higher the viral load, the more the virus is destroying these cells, so the shorter the time to illness at any given CD4 count.

And there are graphs of the average time from going from no symptoms to an AIDS defining illness - based on these two variables. You can get a copy of this chart from the guidelines put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services - these guidelines to treat HIV infection have this chart. They are on the Web - one way site to find them is thru www.healthcg.com - and I believe you can link to these guidelines thru that site.

Good luck. CC


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