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HIV/AIDS

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FAQ: How long can people infected with HIV expect to live?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long can people infected with HIV expect to live?

In the early days of the epidemic, the answer would have been simple--and hard to take. After becoming infected with HIV, people could expect to get AIDS within about 10 years, and then live only 1 to 2 years more.

But things have changed dramatically since then. We have good HIV treatments, and people who are able to start them before their immune system declines significantly and take them as prescribed tend to do very well. We have good tests to monitor how well treatment is working against the virus, and to help choose a new treatment if an old one stops working. With proper medical care, people with HIV can expect to live much longer now than they could 20 years ago.

We still can't tell exactly how long because many of the medications and tests have been around only for 15 years or less, and people are living longer than that. But, more and more, people with HIV are dying of other things, such as injuries and heart attacks and liver disease, not AIDS.