Q and A

Question

How long can I live without HIV drugs?

Can you please tell me how long can someone live without taking HIV medication?

Answer

The best way to answer this is to say that modern HIV treatment (ART) means that life expectancy is not affected by being HIV positive. HIV positive people with access to treatment can be expected to live as long as before they became positive.

Without using HIV treatment, life expectancy is related to how quickly your CD4 count drops and how low it gets.

Without treatment, some people see their CD4 count drop to under 200 within a few years of infection, while others people can go for  5-10 years or longer before they need treatment.

See also: Your CD4 count and the risk of becoming ill.

This is different to saying how long you could live. However, without treatment, once your CD4 count falls below 200 life expectancy drops very dramatically.

Note: This answer was updated in January 2017 from a question first posted in November 2011.

97 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Unknow,

    Because you stopped taking meds for 4 months my advice would be to discuss this with your doctor. Ideally they should run some tests to see what your CD4 count is and viral load. They may also run some resistance tests.

  2. unknown

    Hi I’m an HIV and Tuberculosis patient I stop taking my drugs four months due to depression but I’m back with it..those that mean I’m the drug resistance stage?
    Please I need answer’s..

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Alex, Here’s a page that lists topics that many have to think about when testing positive. For more info you can read this introduction to HIV treatment (ART).

  4. Alex

    Hi I’m newly diagnosed from HIV and i need more information regarding these diesease, where can i get international help line.

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Dee,

    Thank you so much for getting back to us, and for sharing your experience. Its great to hear that you’re doing so well.

    Wishing you well, Lisa.

  6. Dee

    Hello Lisa,

    You asked if I can let you guys know how it went

    Well I hope this helps anyone who was just recently diagnosed aswell.

    I got diagnosed on March 2nd of 2018 by viral load was 45,000

    I started treatment on March 5, 2018 and went back to my doctor April 6th 2018.

    After just one month of medication my viral load went from 45,000 copies to just 182 copies!!

    The medication works you have to take it as prescribed my doctor told me by next month I should be undeictable I feel good and I feel extremely happy!

    Thank you for answering all my questions and I hope everyone reads this. It’s going to be fine just take your medication and you’ll be great l!

    Thank you once again

  7. Rambo

    Hiv postive or negative doesn’t matter anymore. ART is there use it.
    Hiv postive means you have to look after your health more so. No smoking very limited alcohol consumption.
    Healthy eating seeing your doctor every 3 month’s for blood tests kiddney liver hepatitis A and B and C flu vaccine Diebates tests
    Some specialists in the medical field are now suggesting a new phenomenon HIV positive people will out live most of HIV negative people.
    Simply because of regular blood testing. if any medical issue’s are found treatment would be early rather than later.
    Unilke some HIV negative people that rarely see a doctor, only when they are ill or sick and actually need treatment Sounds crazy like i said the possibility of a new phenomenon.

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