Question

Hello,

I know a 57-year old friend who has HIV for 12 years and am convicing him to start ARV, his question how long will he live with this, if his CD4 count and viral load gets back to normal with the right meds. Can he take ARV and expect to have a normal lifespan?

Thanks,

Jack

Answer

Jack

People with long term viral load control live a long life, almost as long as those who do not have HIV (some cohorts and mathematical model reports have shown that we only differ by 10 years or so compared to non infected people, assuming that we have good access to treatment and maintain viral suppression). Some are able to regain a strong immune system while some do not. But in general, taking the newer HIV medications which do not have as many side effects have enable many of us to take them every day without the need to stop them due to debilitating side effects. Here is a recent paper based on a mathematical model which considered two scenarios: early treatment vs treatment after symptoms develop (I am not sure which scenario better reflects your friend's current health):

Projected life expectancy of people with HIV according to timing of diagnosis

So, tell your friend to adhere to his medications and to make plans for the future!

Nelson