Q and A


What is the life expectancy of someone taking ARVs?

I am HIV positive and have been taking ART regularly for 4 years. My CD4 count is 625 and viral load is 519.

Can you please guide me about prognosis?


Thank you for your question.

No one can predict how long another person will live. This is because each person is an individual. How long someone can live also depends on a number of factors. Those that we can change such as taking ARVs, diet and exercise, and those we cannot change such as genetics and chance – good or bad luck.

However, studies have shown that these days with access to and careful use of ARVs (antiretroviral treatment for HIV), people living with HIV can have a life expectancy similar to HIV negative people. Please follow this link for more technical information on studies looking at life expectancy of positive people.

In your question, you mention that you have been taking ARVs for four years. It is unusual to have a viral load above 50 when you are on treatment, when did you last have your viral load checked?

Can I ask what combination you are on? Can I also ask how adherent you are to your medication? Adherence refers to taking your medication on time as prescribed. This is important in ensuring that you achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load (under 50).

If you are being adherent and your viral load is not below 50 after 6 months or more on treatment it is very important to discuss this with your doctor as this could mean that you have some resistance to one or more of the drugs in your treatment. Has your doctor discussed this with you?

Best wishes.


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Granny,

    If your viral load is undetectable then there isn’t any risk of transmission when having sex. For more info, please see here:


  2. Granny

    I’m HIV+ im on meds from 2008. I’m drinking occasionally, not smoking. I’m using unprotected sex.but my partner doesn’t penetrate inside how risky my life n partner are?? I’m worried.

  3. Lisa Thorley
  4. Aisha

    If your Cd4 count is good is it possible for to stop taking the ARVs?

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Johan,

    What’s your CD4 count now?

  6. Johan

    I tested HIV positive in 2006. I have been on ARV’s since 2009. The last time my blood was tested was about six months ago. My CD4 count was about 580. My viral load was undetected and my cd45 count was too low. I have now developed very itchy skin all over my body especially my my arms and legs. It seems te be centred around small red spots. Does this mean that I am now closer to full blown AIDS? I don’t have a very healthy lifestyle and find in virtually impossible to take my medication at exactly the same time every day.

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Goitseone,

    Yes you can drink essence of life. It won’t affect your HIV, not your meds.

  8. Goitseone

    Can I drink essence of life?I’m + and been on Atroiza for 3days.

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Rubin,

    Yes you can expect your CD4 count to climb. Its not possible to say however if it will reach normal levels. Or in what time frame.

    For info about starting meds please see here:


    And Q10 here:


  10. Rubin

    I diagnosed +ve on June 2017, not yet on meds . My VL 55629 and cd4 count is 231. I am 35 and starting treatment next week. Can i have cd4 back to normal level with meds? And can I expect a normal life expectancy?


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