Q and A

Question

What is my life expectancy if i don’t start treatment?

I am HIV positive. My CD4 is 411 and i was treated for pneumonia 2 weeks ago. What happens if i don’t start HAART? Am i going to live healthily? What is my life expectancy?

Answer

Hi,

Thank you for letting us post your question online which cover two different things.

Firstly, on life expectancy, no-one can say how long anyone will live – with or without HIV.

Just as there is a wide range for HIV negative people, there is a similar wide range for HIV positive people. This is why lifestlye factors are important – stopping smoking, keeping active, eating and sleeping well etc. All the same things as for HIV negative people.

Without antiretroviral treatment (ART) HIV progesses at different rates. Some people progress qucily within a year or two. Some people can go ten or more years and still keep a low viral load and high CD4 count.

Everyone is still likely to need ART and benefit from ART.

And with access to ART, HIV positive people can expect to have a similar life expectancy to before they were HIV positive. But this means getting diagnosed early and starting treatment.

HIV can reduce life expectency if you are diagnosed late or go for a long time before starting treatment, especially if your CD4 count becomes very low.

But even people with a low CD4 count recover pretty well and are therefore expected to live a long life.

Secondly there are concerns about starting treatment and when ART is recommended.

In 2014, UK guidelines currently recommend starting treatment before the CD4 count drops below 350. In the future, these guideline might change. For example guidelines in the US recommend starting ART at any CD4 count, even at higher levels and even when first diagnosed. [NOTE: In 2016, UK guidelines now recommend ART at any CD4 count.]

In your case this means that you have time to think about your treatment options. You can discuss any concerns you might have with your clinic or doctor. You can also get back in touch with me.

You can find general information about starting treatment in our online guide.

4 comments

  1. Simon Collins

    Hi Gaurav

    Zidoulam N is a generic combination pill with zidovidine (AZT), lamivudine (3TC) and nevirapine.

    These three meds have been widely used for many years and so are very good.

    More recently other combinations are used more often, but this doesn’t mean this combination will not be good.

    There are sometimes reasons why older meds are used and your doctor might have reasons for precribing this combination rather than others.

    The biggest difference is that tenofovir DF is now used more than AZT, but if you have kidney problems this might be why AZT was used.

    Also, efavirenz is not used more than nevirapine, but efavirenz can have more difficult short term side effects.

    Sometimes different combinations are not available in every country, so this might also be a reason.

  2. Gaurav

    Hi, I have HIV. And have started the treatment Zidolam N. Are thr better medicines?

  3. Simon Collins

    Hi Raj

    HIV treatment is free in the UK for everyone so long as this is as an out-patient. This menas that you walkin and out of the clinic on the same day and are not hospitalised.

    This includes students from other countries and people who don’t officialy have permission to be in the UK.

    If you put your postcode into the resource at this link it will show you clinics:
    http://www.bashh.org/BASHH/Clinics/clinics.aspx

    Or please call the i-Base phoneline if you would like to talk about this.

  4. raj

    if a student living from long time in uk and he is diagnosed with hiv in uk , can he get proper treatment , and if he his homeless where he should go.

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