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. Cathy

    I have been taking ARVs for four years.

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi CJ,

    As long as the combination that your partner is on is working, then there would be no need to change. This is unless something something new comes to the market that his doctor thinks may be better.

    Its is possible that someone can develop resistance to their medication. This is usually due to poor adherence and in some cases just bad luck. If this is the case then another combination would need to be used. There’s more about this here: http://i-base.info/u-equals-u/

    From what you’ve said it sounds like your partner is doing really well, this is really important. Its also good to see that you’re being supportive.

  3. CJ

    Hello.. My partner was recently diagnosed with HIV this September 9. It was really tough for both of us, especially him. But I had to be there to support him because I was his only support and knows of his dx. His VL was 185,000 and his CD4 was 195. He was also found to have Syphilis with the highest titer the doctor has seen. He was immediately started on Genvoya and treated for Syphilis. After 2 weeks, his VL went down to 150 but no CD4 count was done. After 6 weeks of starting ARVs, his VL was 50 and CD4 294. His next appointment is on January so were hoping for even better results. We’ve been happy with the results so far. He’s been very compliant and adherent with his medication. Mild side effects, not really bothersome enough to want to switch. We’ve been happy with the medication so the question comes up… would the treatment still has a chance to fail even if we adhere to the medication 100%? how long can we stay on the medication before possibly switching to a different combination.. Thanks.

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Cleopas,

    Please see Q’s 9 and 14 here: http://i-base.info/qa/what-are-the-most-asked-questions

  5. Cleopas

    i am going out with an HIV + woman and her viral load is very low to undetectable.what are my chances of getting affected?

  6. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Ken, If you think you have HIV it’s a good idea to get tested. Modern HIV treatment is safe and effective. And it’s easier to take too. Many HIV positive people on treatment (called ART) can have a life expectancy the same as someone who is HIV negative. And many have really good quality of life. Can you ask for support at the doctors or clinic where you might ask for a test?

  7. ken

    I suspect to have contracted hiv but am still nervous to go for testing.still looking for word for a councillor.

  8. festus

    angelina I like your answers they are really making me see a bright future..thanks alot

  9. Simon Collins

    Hi Bazil, there are no interactions between alcohol and HIV meds. Just as for HIV negative people, alcohol can cause serious health problems if you drink too much and too often. Moderation is better for your health.

  10. Bazil

    Can an Hiv positive person take wines or beer?


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