Q and A


What is my life expectancy if I start ARVs today?

How long am i expected to live if i start ARVs today? I tested HIV+ last September.



Thanks for your email. It’s good you are considering treatment. Modern HIV treatment is very effective.

Do you know your CD4 count and viral? These are markers used to monitor your HIV.

So long as you start treatment before your CD4 count drops below 350 your life expectancy is very good, similar to somebody who is not HIV positive.

There are lots of previous questions about life expectancy here.


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Judie,

    This is fantastic news. Having a rise from 182 to 285 in 9 months is great, it means that the meds are working. In time it should also go higher.

  2. judie

    hello Lisa
    hope you are well, i was found HIV positive early this year February 2017 and my CD was 182 but after 9 months of been on ARVs it has go to 285 is this normal or i have to consult my doctor

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Lulama,

    With regards to the lump, this is something that you’ll need to talk to your doctor about.

    A persons viral load should become undetectable within 3 months. However, it can take even up to 6 months. What was your viral load when you started meds?

  4. Lulama

    I have been on meds for 3 months now and i still have behind one ear a lump that is not going away how long will it take for it to disappear and how long till i reach an undetactable status

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Sibonelo,

    Are you on medication? If yes, what? How long have you had these systems for? Have you discussed this with a doctor?

  6. Sibonelo

    Hi, I have been HIV positive since 2015, the only problem that I’m facing is the issue of stomach ach and rumbling. What can I do to solve the problem?

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Christopher,

    No, the change shouldn’t affect your CD4. The new meds should pick up where you left of with the Atripla. What’s the reason for the change?

  8. Christopher

    I have been taken off Atripla and put on efavirenz and truvada. I have a CD4 count of 300 and have been positive for around 15 years. Will the change alter my CD4 count?
    Ps I am 64 years old and feel healthy.

  9. Simon Collins

    Hi Sal

    Life expectancy is estimated based on averages from larger groups of people. So although starting with a lower CD4 count has a higher risk of complications, this doesn’t happen for everyone. There are lots of people who started treatment with a much lower CD4 counts and who have had a great response to treatment for over 20 years. The lower your CD4 count when you start, the more important it is to look after your health in other ways. For example, by not smoking, by eating a balanced diet and by keeping mentally and physically active.

  10. Sai

    Does it mean if a person starts treatment at low cd4 of 55 will they have less life expectancy?


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