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.

158 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Ananda,

    You can not catch HIV from living in the same house as someone who is HIV positive. Please see this link for info on ways that HIV is not transmitted.

  2. Ananda

    Just find out my younger brother have HIV,how can I prevent myself from not contacting,some,cause I cook,wash and bath him,please help

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Geetha,

    Having pimples on your penis is not a symptom of HIV. If the pimples are warts you can ask your husband to get them checked and treated by your doctor. Having an HIV test before planning children is a good idea.

  4. geetha

    my husband is having pimples on penins. is it symptoms of hiv ? we hav given blood samples for test today we both are 25 and v just pland to have childrens in coming days as we have put it delay due to some reasons if he is hiv positive is der anyways tat i could help him get out of it

  5. Mmoloki

    Hi I’m HIV positive since 2014 starts treatment. i m beautiful and you won’t believe that I’m. I’m big and strong Marcel. eat normal food and I’m 35 years old. father of 3 daughters. I believe that I will catch another 35years if I’m not chase by the accident out there on the road. hahaha, I’m stress free.

  6. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Joe,

    Even if your HIV test comes back positive, that doesn’t mean you’re going to die. So please don’t be scared.

    Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about testing and transmission.

  7. Joe

    Hi, I ave all the symptoms and immediatly went for lab test yesterday.26/11/2018. I await the result of the test.im not scared of dying. I hope God forgives me.

  8. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Katerina,

    Please could you be a bit clearer, I’m sorry but I don’t understand. What HIV meds are you taking?

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