Q and A


How long can someone live with HIV?

How long can a man live with HIV if he was around 18 years old and was healthy when he was infected, both with and without medication?


Modern HIV drugs mean that life expectancy is now similar for HIV positive people to the general population.

This is based on being diagnosed early and having access to treatment.

The wide range of factors related to life expectancy include: where you live, your income, access to health care, lifestyle (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, exercise and diet) and other infections like hepatitis, genetics and chance – good or bad luck.

Several large studies have been published showing that life expectancy for HIV positive people is very good, and near to an HIV negative person.

Without treatment, HIV will slowly progress in nearly everyone. This speed that HIV progresses varies from a few years to more than 20 years.

Note: this answer was updated in January 2018 from a question posted in August 2008..


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Doreen,

    Its common to feel like this when you’ve just been diagnosed. Is there anyone you can talk to, a close friend, or relative?

    Though it may all seem very overwhelming, it does and will get better. HIV is no longer the illness it used to be. Its now very easy to treat. Its also possible to have a normal life expectancy and have a family.

    Just give yourself some time to breath, and to come to terms with this. Was medication discussed with you? If it was then you may find this helpful:


    The guide also discusses possible side effects.

  2. Doreen

    Hi I was yesterday diagnosed with hic I have not gotten sleep since.my question what side effects will I see when I start medication

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Del,

    When someone is newly diagnosed it very common to feel like this- to question if you’re going to be OK or not. The thing is you are going to be OK. HIV is now very easy to control and treat.

    You’re taking control of your HIV by being on meds.

    To know if they are working or not, (which in most case the first combination does) its important to have your viral load tested. This tests lets a doctor know how well the medication is working. There’s more about starting meds here:


    You may also find this helpful:


  4. Del

    Hello guys I have just found out I am hiv Positive in March 2, 2018. My mind is running all over the place I am scared that I am going to die, I am scared that my medicine isn’t going to work I am on Genvoya a one pill a day supplement. I started treatment on March 9th and have felt no side affects. I guess the biggest worry I have right now is if my medication is going to work or not I spend all of my days looking at hiv stories researching almost everything regarding hiv and I’m having a tough time adjusting to it. Also I take my medication is prescribed every day on time after my lunch not a minute after and not a minute before. Like I said my biggest fear is my medication not working. Any advice you guys can give me?

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi John, Thanks for your question. It was a bit long so I edited it down, but I hope I’ve got your main questions right. As you can see from this question, keeping heathly and exercising in the gym is good for your immune system. But some supplements can interact with your ART so it’s important to tell your doctor if you are taking these. You can ask your doctor if you need treatment – such as vaccination – if you are travelling to a place where it’s recommended.

  6. John

    My question, I have 220 CD4 and viral load of 160 in my 3rd month of art, I have completed 4th now. Hoping the CD4 must have gone up.
    Now my query is about joining a gym and involving in muscle training. I left Gym 5 months back when I got ill and lost 10 % of my body weight. But after taking art I have gained more than I lost. I don’t want it to go out of hand. So is it safe for me to start going to gym? I heard going in Gym might be hazardous when the CD4 count is low. And what kind of proteins should I look for which will not hamper my ART.
    Also, I am 35 year old and I have to travel quite frequently, within India or abroad. Does travelling and working in manufacturing make me more prone of picking up opportunist infection?

  7. Roy Trevelion

    Good evening Kayal,

    The quick answer – as it says here – is that with modern HIV drugs your life expectancy is likely to be similar to if you were HIV negative.

    This can be the same for people over 60 years of age. Especially if your relative is taking treatment and HIV is undetectable in blood tests.


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