Stages Of Hiv Infection
The stages of infection from person to person vary slightly, both in severity and the speed of progression. These stages map the depletion of immune cells as the body’s defenses further and further degrade.
With each progression, the risk of opportunistic infections increases until the immune system is said to be fully compromised. It is at this stage that the risk of illness and death is particularly high.
The stages of infection can be roughly classified as follows:
How Long Can Hiv Go Undetected
In most parts of the world, being diagnosed with immunodeficiency virus or HIV is still considered a death sentence, but that is not really the case in developed countries. With the availability of new resources, it is now possible to manage HIV in a much better way. However, millions of people still do not have access to those resources and many of them die because of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , which is the last stage of the infection caused by HIV. Statistics have found that more than 11 million Americans, older than 13, had HIV at the end of 2014. The numbers are not accurate because many people never realize that they are infected. This makes people wonder how long HIV can go undetected.
Days To 20 Years After Exposure
The chronic stage of infection occurs once the immune system brings the virus under control. During this phase, HIV will go into hiding, where it resides in various cells and tissues throughout the body in a dormant state known as latency. HIV latency can persist without symptoms for 10 years or more, although some people may experience signs within a year or two.
During the early chronic phase, lymphadenopathy may be the only notable sign of an HIV infection. In some cases, the glands may be visibly enlarged and reach up to an inch or more in size. If the condition persists for more than three months, its referred to as persistent generalized lymphadenopathy .
Even during latency, the virus will multiple imperceptibly and gradually deplete immune cells known as CD4 T-cells. As immune deficiency develops, a number of nonspecific symptoms are likely to appear, including:
- Oral candidiasis , a fungal infection that causes the formation of creamy, white lesions on the sides of the tongue and lining of the mouth
- Unexplained fevers and drenching night sweats that soak through bedsheets and nightclothes
- Severe, uncontrolled diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
Each of these symptoms is commonly seen in persons with immune deficiency. They may, in some cases, be caused by HIV itself or by an infection that has yet to be diagnosed.
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How Common Is Mother
In the UK all pregnant women are offered an HIV test, because transmission can now be easily prevented.
Once its known that the mother-to-be is living with HIV, shell be put on treatment right away. The doctors will instruct her on how to protect the baby during pregnancy, delivery and once the baby is born. Shell also be advised not to breast feed and the baby will be given a course of HIV treatment.
Thanks to those strategies theres now less than 1% chance of the baby having HIV. This falls to 0.1% if the mother is on treatment with an undetectable viral load. Back when those interventions were not known and commonly used, the risk of transmission was 30-45%.
How Many People Die Of Aids Each Year
Here are the latest statistics as reported by UNAIDS: The 1.1 million AIDS-related deaths in 2016 add to the worldwide total of 39 million deaths reported since the beginning of the epidemic. Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of deaths in people with HIV, accounting for one of every AIDS-related mortalities.
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Can You Live A Long Healthy Life With Hiv
An HIV diagnosis was once renowned as a death sentence. However, advances in scientific research and medicine mean it is now possible to manage HIV on a daily basis without passing it on to others. In fact, it was only in 2019 when the oldest known person with HIV died. Miguel – known as The Lisbon Patient – was a Portuguese man who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 84. He lived to the age of 100.
Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
18-Nov-21·8 mins read
How Does An Hiv Diagnosis Change Your Outlook On Life
Accepting his HIV status has been a long process for Bisi. He’s battled with depression, self-doubt and shame over the 17 years since his diagnosis.
He says, “I have also had to deal with guilt, the fact that I am the one who got to live when many of my wonderful friends had to die. This has also caused anger and frustration. Seeing the medicines now available, even the conversation around vaccines, makes me want to scream. Imagine if my friends had access to life-saving HIV medications in the early 2000s.”
It’s been a journey for Nathaniel too, who didn’t tell his family about his HIV for 15 years, a kind of secrecy he says isn’t uncommon.
“Stigma and discrimination haven’t gone away. I’ve faced rejection from partners and now I just worry all the time about who to tell. I’m a performer, so when I went public with my diagnosis in a solo show and on TV, it was my way of ridding myself of the toxic shame I’d carried all those years. My mission is to educate and empower people to become HIV allies, as there are many misconceptions out there. For example, people still think HIV is a ‘gay’ disease, yet over 50% of people living with HIV in the UK are heterosexual. Many people also don’t know about U=U or the options to protect themselves and their partners.”
Following his struggle, Nathaniel wants to raise awareness so fewer people feel the shame he did.
Likewise, Musa’s outlook on life has changed over the years.
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How Long Does It Take For Hiv To Progress To Aids
How long does it take for HIV to progress to AIDS? In all but a few rare cases, if left untreated, HIV will progress to a stage of infection called AIDS. This is when the immune defenses have been compromised, and the body is less able to defend itself against potentially life-threatening infections.
The Takeaway: Great News But Also A Reminder Of Our Current Challenges
Taken as a whole, these encouraging life expectancy findings show that, for people with access to quality health care who begin HIV treatment early, a normal life span isnt just possibleits quite likely. Our results are likely generalizable to the broader insured population, Marcus noted.
However, even within this cohort of members of a major U.S. health care organization, only 29% had a CD4 count of 500 or higher when they started antiretroviral therapy. That will temper the rosy message somewhat, although theres still good news in the overall shrinking of the life-expectancy gap to under a decade between people living with HIV and HIV-negative people. The need for improvements in access to and retention in HIV care are clear.
In addition, the size and persistence of the gaps we see in comorbidity-free years provide a stark reminder about the work researchers and health care providers have ahead of them in adequately preventing, diagnosing, and managing significant health complications in people who are living with HIV. We are solidly in an era in which an HIV diagnosis no longer has to mean a shorter life the challenge we now face is to also ensure that an HIV diagnosis doesnt mean a less-healthy life.
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More About Hiv Transmission
When youre born with HIV, the virus was passed to you from your mother. But mother-to-child transmission is not the only way in which HIV is transmitted. More commonly, HIV is passed on via sex or by injecting drugs with shared injecting equipment.
Transmission is dependent on the HIV positive persons viral load if the viral load is undetectable, the virus cant be passed on.
What Is The Window Period For Hiv
The window period refers to the time after the HIV infection, when the presence of HIV in the blood cannot be detected by a diagnostic test. It takes a different amount of time for HIV to show up on different HIV tests. The length of the window period depends on the type of test a person takes. The advanced tests can give an accurate result within four weeks of the infection, while others may take two to three months.
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Facts About Hiv: Life Expectancy And Long
The outlook for people living with HIV has significantly improved over the past two decades. Many people who are HIV-positive can now live much longer, healthier lives when regularly taking antiretroviral treatment.
Kaiser Permanente researchers found that the life expectancy for people living with HIV and receiving treatment increased significantly from 1996 on. Since that year, new antiretroviral drugs have been developed and added to the existing antiretroviral therapy. This has resulted in a highly effective HIV treatment regimen.
In 1996, the total life expectancy for a 20-year-old person with HIV was 39 years. In 2011, the total life expectancy bumped up to about 70 years.
The survival rate for HIV-positive people has also dramatically improved since the first days of the HIV epidemic. For example,
, a person with undetectable levels of HIV in their blood isnt able to transmit the virus to a partner during sex.
Between 2010 and 2014, the annual number of new HIV infections in the United States fell by
What Life Expectancy Really Means
Scientists estimate life expectancy by looking at large numbers of people and collecting information about demographics and various health risk factors . Then they learn as much as possible about when and how these people die.
At the end of that analysis, researchers reach a number: an average life span. It’s not a magic number, though. In general, about half of all people die before reaching that average life span, while the other half will live longer than the average.
Many factors can influence whether a person lives longer or shorter than the average person. In fact, even the average itself can be up for debate. Estimating life expectancy is an imprecise science that requires tons of data, and because each study on life expectancy is conducted differently and examines a different group of people, they may not reach the same numbers.
On top of that, it’s often difficult for researchers to capture important variables that could affect life expectancy estimates, such as lifetime tobacco use. A person’s actual cause of death is frequently not recorded. Even after all the data is crunched, there are different ways to report it. For example, scientists can estimate life expectancy from a person’s year of birth, or they can instead estimate the number of additional years of life a person could expect to live if they were currently of a certain age.
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The Bottom Line On Hiv And Life Expectancy
After I explained all of this to my skeptical patient John, I repeated the good news that comes out of these life expectancy data: While it’s impossible to accurately predict how long any single person will live, as a group, the life expectancy for people living with HIV has dramatically improved, and continues to improve. In clinic after clinic, across the U.S. and in nations around the world, the death toll from AIDS has dropped and the average life expectancy has increased, as has the quality of those longer lives.
I also told John what I tell all my patients these days: My goal is to help ensure that both the duration and quality of his life end up well above those averages.
, is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care and an adjunct professor at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D.
Ben Young, M.D., Ph.D., is a highly regarded HIV physician-researcher at the forefront of efforts to establish better coordinated care for people living with HIV. He was a Q& A expert and writer on TheBody for nearly 20 years, leaving in 2018.
Study Findings: Large Improvements In Lifespan But Large Differences In Comorbidity
The answer to the life expectancy question was an unambiguous yes: People living with HIV in the U.S. continue to close the lifespan gap with the HIV-negative population. Specifically, within this cohort of people age 21 or older:
Overall life expectancy for people living with HIV improved from 71 in the 2008-2010 period to 77 in the 2014-2016 period.
By comparison, life expectancy for HIV-negative people was 86 in the 2014-2016 period, shrinking the HIV status lifespan gap to 9 years.
Among people who started HIV treatment with a CD4 count of 500 or higher, life expectancy in the 2011-2016 period was 87, compared to 85 for HIV-negative people.
In the 2011-2016 period, people who started HIV treatment at that higher CD4 count lived an average of 11 years longer relative to the overall HIV-positive cohort.
The answer to the comorbidity question was more complexand more sobering. Marcus et al focused their analyses on six categories of incident health complications:
- chronic lung disease
They found that, in the 2014-2016 period, people living with HIV developed their first comorbidity at age 36, on average16 years earlier than HIV-negative people. The 16-year gap was the same in this more recent period as it was in the 2000-2003 period, although the age of first comorbidity incidence increased for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people in the intervening years.
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The Response Of Medical Professionals After Diagnosis
Bisi was fortunate with the response to his diagnosis, and was told that he could get help.
“I actually got diagnosed at an HIV conference, so the amount of inspiration around me gave me a very solid foundation to build upon the little hope I had.”
He also had friends who had been living for a long time with the virus, offering comfort, but it was still a hard thing to accept. And sadly, not every person is instantly reassured that a long life is possible with HIV.
Nathaniel was told that he had a prognosis of 37 years. The shadow of what HIV meant in the 1980s also loomed over him. A few months later, as HIV healthcare continued to develop rapidly, he was told that medication could keep him alive well into old age.
“I still felt a seriousness about starting medication, as I’d heard of people having adverse side effects. Nowadays, thankfully, people start medication right away and the side effects are less severe. All the staff at my clinic were kind and supportive, but HIV is often separated from other STIs as being more serious. It sometimes feels like people are over-protecting you,” he says.
Similarly, Musa Njoko, 49, wasn’t given hope for the future following her diagnosis in October 1994.
“I was completely perplexed and devastated. Due to my health at the time and what was available medically, or lack thereof, I was given three months to live if I was lucky. I had a 2-year-old son, who is now 28.”
How Do I Talk With People About Having Hiv
It might feel scary to admit that you have HIV, but talking about things can really ease your mind. You could lean on a close, non-judgmental friend or family member whom you trust to keep the conversation private. Counselors and support groups can also be sources of comfort and they can help you figure out how to talk with others about your HIV. Be careful about who you tell your status to people with HIV sometimes deal with unfair discrimination.
Theres no one right way to talk to your partners about having HIV, but here are some basic tips that might help:
Try to stay calm and remember that youre not the only one dealing with this. Millions of people have HIV, and plenty of them are in relationships. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having HIV is a health issue, and it doesnt mean anything about you as a person.
Know your HIV and AIDS facts. There are a lot of myths about HIV out there, so read up on the facts and be ready to answer your partners questions. Check out HIV.gov. Let your partner know there are medications that can help you live for a long time and avoid passing HIV to them. Safer sex like condoms and PrEP can also help protect your partner.
Its really important to also tell your past partners that you have HIV, so they can get tested, too. A lot of health departments have programs that let your partners know they were exposed to HIV without giving them your name unless you want them to.
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The Devil Is In The Details
An analysis of the details of this study gives us a glimpse into why there’s still a life expectancy gap between HIV-negative and HIV-positive people — as well as who appears to do better or worse than this average. While the life expectancy gap wasn’t much affected by gender, it was affected by race — African Americans had lower life expectancy, for instance — and it was lower for people who inject drugs. Importantly, people who initiated HIV treatment with a higher CD4 count narrowed the life expectancy gap from eight to five years. The study authors concluded that “timely initiation” of HIV treatment should further narrow the overall gap. Ditto for smoking cessation cigarette use is about twice as common among people with HIV, which obviously lowers life expectancy.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why life expectancy for people with HIV remains lower, on average, than for the general public. Many of those reasons become clear when we take a glimpse at the HIV care continuum.
Despite recommendations for near-universal HIV testing and treatment for all people with HIV in the U.S., many Americans living with HIV don’t know their status many are diagnosed late and less than half are engaged in medical care — only 37% of the HIV-positive population currently receives ART. Some populations of people fare even worse — African Americans, for example, as well as immigrants and people who use drugs.