Question about how well someone can control their virus.

Question

Dr. Young,

If someone controls their virus without medication for 5-6 years, does that mean they will probably have a normal life span once starting their meds?

I read about people expecting normal lifespans if they can maintain viral load and cd4 cells above a certain number on meds, but I wondered if this is also true of they have done well without any meds for that long.

Thanks,

M.

Answer

Hello again M, thanks for your post.

Yes, there are rare individuals who control their virus without the benefit of HIV medications. We call these persons "long-term non-progressors". Typically, they have very low level (or undetectable) virus (but are HIV antibody positive).

There are also individuals with low level viremia (ie., apparent virological control) who continue to have immune depletion.

Nevertheless, in the large majority of cases, once on medications (and appropriate medications, adhered to), we can now expect essentially normal lifespan.

I hope this helps, BY