Q and A


Ageing and HIV…

I was diagnosed in 2018 with a recent infection, on ART straightaway, quickly undetectable and remain so. However I constantly worry about getting older, I’m 60 with HIV and read it will be life limiting. I eat well, keep fit, exercise. I feel as though I’m just functioning just now rather than living.

Any help or advice


Hi, how are you?

A general reply is to say that starting treatment early and being adherent will help to keep you healthy and you will have a similar life expectancy to your HIV negative peers. In some instances it can be argued that people who are HIV positive will have a longer life expectancy. This is relating to their engagement with health services and other health problems being incidentally picked up with routine checks.

Though ageing with HIV cannot be this simple without other factors. You are right that maintaining a healthy lifestyle does play a big role in ageing well. As with anyone, a healthy lifestyle in moderation will help improve a person’s quality of life and reduce risk factors for other health problems.

The biggest factor for ageing well is being on treatment. ART will suppress the effects that HIV has on the body and prevent negative health consequences that could hasten the ageing process. This being said, there is some elevated risk that being on ART can increase chances of other diseases like cardiovascular disease. In this case, this is why a healthy lifestyle would continue to help ageing without disease as a good diet and exercise can reduce this risk.

The direct effects of HIV on ageing is difficult to address and new research is always being released. As people with HIV are now living longer, newer complications are being seen e.g., older people are more likely to have multiple health conditions, but people with HIV are seen to have more. The actual reason can be suggested to be an effect between HIV itself and the shared characteristics of people living with HIV. This means that while there can be an increased risk of ill-health, the statistic cannot be applied to each individual person and that your own risk factors will alter how you age.

A theory is that even on ART, people living with HIV will have a background level of inflammation that is not present in their HIV negative peers. It has been suggested that this causes earlier ageing of the immune system and some people have reported age-related illness at earlier points in their life. However, this is still being researched it cannot be a said what, if any, the long term complications are.



  1. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Anonymous, as your girlfriend is on treatment the risk of transmission is little to nothing. If she has a viral load below 200 there is no risk of transmission. This is explained by U=U: https://i-base.info/u-equals-u/

    Even if her viral load is more than this, as she is on treatment the risk of transmission remains minimal. In the UK this would not be considered high risk and PEP not needed.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi , how are you

    I had sex with my girlfriend for the first an she told me she is HIV positive after having sex an she has been taking ARVs for two years. The condom broke during the sexual intercourse.
    After two days I went to a pharmacy (doctor) an they gave me trivenz, to take for 28 days, the advice me to make the HIV test after two weeks.

    My question at what risk am I to be infected?, I only had sex with her once during that time when the condom broke.


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