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How long can someone live with hiv

Being an HIV-positive patient used to be a death sentence -- you were expected to live two years at the very most upon initial diagnosis. Now, nearly 40 years after the first known case of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the outlook doesn’t seem so grim for patients thanks to advancements in antiretroviral medications.

According to estimates from the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, 36.7 million people globally were living with HIV at the of 2016; 1.8 million people were newly infected, and 1 million people died of the virus.

The Height of the Epidemic

In 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published a report detailing cases of a rare pneumonia in 5 healthy, gay men from California, specifically the Los Angeles area. The report described the five different cases with different immunocompromised conditions. By the time the report was published, two of the men had already died.

At the height of the epidemic in sub-saharan South Africa, life expectancy dropped to 49.5 years old, and, in some countries, life expectancy was reduced by 20 years or more in underdeveloped countries ravaged by HIV/ AIDS.

Many individuals during this time suffered “unexplained respiratory illness” until HIV was discovered.

Life Expectancy Today

Today, the reality HIV-sufferers face is much different. Many can expect to live regular lives with a substantial life expectancy thanks to antiretroviral medications, pain relievers, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

For example, if a 20-year old was determined to be HIV-positive, they could expect to live well into their 70s as long as they were to follow medical guidelines and precautions from their doctor, start antiretroviral medication early and continue usage, and eat healthy and exercise regularly.

Today, nearly half of all people do not have access to antiretroviral medication therapy. This is primarily in low-income countries, but advancements are being made to ensure therapy is globally available to all HIV-positive patients. The WHO says by mid-2017, 20.9 million people were receiving some sort of ART therapy.

Factors Contributing to Lower Life Expectancy in Modern-Day Patients

HIV-positive individuals should be aware of potential challenges that may be imposed onto their health due to their weakened immune system. Certain activities, such as intravenous drug use, can decrease your life expectancy being an HIV-positive individual.

HIV-positive individuals are also at higher risk of the following health issues, shortening their life expectancy:

• Heart disease

• Pneumonia

• Tuberculosis

Prolonging Your Life Expectancy

HIV-positive individuals should make sure they take their HIV antiretroviral medication regularly with a well-balanced meal. HIV-positive individuals should avoid eating foods that are high in sugar or salt, raw or uncooked meats, unpasteurized dairy products, and untreated water. They should also avoid tobacco smoking, alcohol, and recreational drug use, especially that which requires a needle or the potential spread of blood-borne pathogens.

HIV-positive individuals should also practice safe-sex -- using male or female condoms, discussing issues with your partner, and having only one partner.

HIV-positive individuals can live a regular life as long as they take the necessary measures to ensure they live a healthy lifestyle.