Question

Dear Doctor Young,

In ny country, too, Charlie Sheen's case has been reported on the media. One of the most famous doctors said on TV that taking ART will NEVER cause HIV to progress to AIDS . Is it true? Can we say NEVER ? If not, how many does progress to AIDS in spite of taking medicine ? I am afraid it is too late for me because I was found to be having AIDS with PCP. Thank you in advance.

Answer

Hello and thanks for posting.

First, a matter of clarity. ART doesn't cause HIV to progress to AIDS. Failure of ART (due to poor adherence or drug resistance) can cause an HIV infected person to fail to improve or progress to AIDS.

While absolutes like "never" are never absolutely true, someone taking properly selected ART, properly adhered to, should not have treatment failure or disease progression to AIDS.

It's not too late for you at all. While you had an AIDS defining illness (PCP- really now called PJP), your health should improve with time on ART, and once your immune health recovers, you shouldn't have any significant risk of new AIDS complications.

Hope that's helpful; I wish you excellent health. BY