What’s the life expectancy of an HIV-postive person?

Dear doctor, What is the life expectancy of someone with HIV?

Dear doctor,

What is the life expectancy of someone with HIV?

Cecile 18 years

Dear Cecile,

This is a very sensitive question. Once the virus is inside, the body tends to replicate in body cells particularly in the lymphocytes. As the viral load increases and CD4 count falls, immunity of the body falls, increasing susceptibility to infections. In advanced immune deficiency, some fatal life threatening infections like disseminated tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, etc. or even cancers like lymphomas, Kaposi;s sarcoma, etc. can occur.

But with initiation of Bactrim prophylaxis to keep away bacterial infections and antiretroviral(ART) therapy to keep viral load low, the frequency of the life threatening illnesses has decreased and HIV affected people can have a long and healthy life. Various studies have substantiated that since 2000 onwards, when regular ART has become available, life expectancy of HIV infected individuals has increased. This has been substantiated by various studies.

However the key to long and healthy life lies in undergoing  tests of surveillance of immune status, regularly like CD4 count and viral load and being compliant with the ante retroviral drugs. These tests and medicines are available even at level of health centers and one should make use of the facility.

It is equally important to have a healthy life style. This includes taking healthy balanced food, regular exercise, exposure to good ventilation and sunshine, good personal hygiene and physical and mental relaxation. Abusive substances like alcohol and tobacco should be considered taboo and shunned forever. There is no reason why an HIV infected person cannot have a long life.