Q and A


Can I really have a normal life expectancy?

I’ve been reading posts and articles from i-base since I was diagnosed 11 months ago. Thank you so much for providing this platform. My question is about longevity. All health care professionals say that it is possible to live a full life with HIV but how realistic is that? And if it is possible why are there still people who are dying daily from the disease (I live in South Africa)? My biggest fear as well is to look symptomatic, I take my medication daily, I go to gym and I eat healthy often. I’m only 27yrs old and this has become my biggest fear realized. I have a daughter to live for I don\'t want to die and leave her without a mother. My family doesn’t know about my status, I’m just so ashamed.


Thanks for getting in touch.

Though HIV is a very stigmatized health condition, you have nothing to feel ashamed about. Your condition is very manageable and if you’re on treatment and your viral load is undetectable you cannot transmit HIV through sexual intercourse.

With regards to life expectancy, its common to worry about this. However, HIV is now a very treatable condition, so yes you can expect to have a similar life expectancy to what you would have had, had you not become positive. For more please see Q10 here:


People who die from HIV will be people who have been diagnosed with a very low CD4 and people who’ve acquired other infections.


  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Sabelo,

    It’s good that you’re thinking of starting to take the meds. It sounds like the doctor is being careful so that you start on meds that will be right for you as an individual. We all have these tests before starting treatment, and that means they can most effective.

    CD4 counts go down over time, but starting treatment can help your CD4 count to recover.

  2. Sabelo

    Hi, I just found out recently early this month that am diagnised with HIV, my CD4 is 332, I haven’t started to meds but the doctor said I’ll start taking after they’ve checked everything regarding my health. I just wanna know how long does it take for your CD4 to decrease to a lower level?

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Oyisa,

    If your mother is having problems with eating this is something that she needs to talk to her doctor about.

    Do you know what your mothers CD4 count is? Other than the HIV and the mouth ulcer does she have any other health complications?
    With regards to the weight, how much weight has she lost?

  4. Oyisa


    I found out last year that my mother is HIV positive and she had started loosing weight by then but was not on treatment. Now she has lost weight drastically, she is ill most of the time and is struggling with a mouth sore that is not healing in her mouth for months now. She started treatment about a month ago and she is very frail, what can I do to help her? Is there a chance the treatment will still be effective for her to look and feel healthy again? I am trying to stay as positive as I can for her and for my younger siblings but I also want to face reality and be prepared if she will not recover. This is such a painful experience i wish there was something i could do to make her recover quickly. she has been getting medication from the local clinic for the mouth sore but it does not seem to be working at all and this is causing her to be unable to eat.

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nkebeana,

    It sounds like you and your husband are doing well. How long have you been on meds?

    Yes its ok to have sex without using a condom. This shouldn’t be an issue.

  6. Nkebeana

    Both + and on treatment.husband’s cd4 is 322 n mine m not sure but the dr said is better.trying to conceive s nw i jst finished gynae’ s meds.for 2 weeks we r not using condom.how safe r we? hiv pill makes me dizzy most of d time but fresh in d morning everyday.husby is fine.are we doing right?

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Blessing,

    Its very common to feel like this when you’ve just been diagnosed. Though it may feel like things won’t get any better, they will. And I say this from experience.

    Even if you don’t want to tell your family, having someone to talk to will help. This could be a close friend or someone else who is positive. It really does make a difference. Do you know if there’s a local support group near to where you live?

    With regards to not being able to see your child grow up, there’s no reason why this can’t happen. As long as you take ARVs your life expectancy will be like it would have been had you not have contracted HIV. What this means is that you can have a normal life.

    Just try and give yourself sometime.

  8. Blessing

    I’m 29 and only found out that I’m HIV in May..I’m ok I think I just feel alone.I also have a daughter and my family knows nothing about this..I’m trying each day to make positive decisions and have taken responsible future decision for my child life if am not there..I scared..I’m in tears just thinking about not seeing my baby grow..I have good days and I have days like today when I just want to hide..


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *