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 Thabi,

    Have you started medication? If you have how long have you been on it for? What was your CD4 when you started meds?

  2. Thabi

    How long can it take for my cd4 count to go up

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Mohammed,

    I’m sorry to hear your story. It sounds very tough for you.

    But you could try contacting the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in the Middle East and North Africa. They might be able to help.

    Here’s a link to their website, and there is a contact page there too.

  4. mohammed

    location : morocco
    Income : 0 very poor condition

    i had unprotected sex a year and half ago and got 99% of hiv symptoms within 15 days , i got terrified and i understood that i am 99% hiv positive , i coud not go for a test , i keep delying it more & more finding more excuses while being in a severe depressed condition, i do not have any support, my family is illitrate , they cant understand my ilness , only me know what s happening, i thought of suicid many times, i am just lost in a procrastination loop, day after day i feel hopless.


  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Muni,

    I’m sorry to hear you are so unwell. But it does sound like you have access to treatment for cancer.

    However, treating both HIV and cancer is a highly specialised aspect of medical care. If you are diagnosed with any cancer, whether formally HIV-related or not, you need to be treated by an expert in HIV-related cancer.

    Are your HIV and cancer doctors working together? Do you have support where you live? Please let us know.

  6. Muni

    Cd4 count is 56
    Cd8 count is 1000
    I have hiv and cancer both.
    My age is 52.
    How many years, I can survive.
    Doctors said take chemotherapy treatment. But they said only 20% chances they given.
    May I know cancer can cure for me.
    How long I can live.
    I need to do so much things to my family.
    So please help me

  7. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Chidi,

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Did you manage to have an HIV test? Do you know your CD4 and viral load results? Please let us know.

  8. chidi

    I discovered the signs of hiv in me after having sex with a lady within 1 month. but unfortunately I cannot have the treatment for till first month of 2021. when my contract will finish, the country where I am do not accept people living with HIV. what will be my chances to survive without treatment till 2021 when I travel back to my country?

  9. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Terry,

    I’m sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. If you have just been diagnosed this can be a difficult time. And it will probably take a while for the news to sink in.

    But even though it may not feel like it, your health will be better now you know your HIV status. This is because you can now get the right monitoring and treatment. If you had not found out, your health would have just got worse.

    Do you have access to your viral load and CD4 count results? Please let us know.

    There’s a lot of info in this guide to starting HIV treatment (called ART).

    People who are HIV positive and on ART can now have a life expectancy that’s the same as someone who is HIV negative.

    Please stay in touch, and let us know how things are going.


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