Q&A: Living With HIV

hiv ribbonQ: What are some of the top conditions that people who’ve been living with HIV for a longer period of time tend to suffer from? In addition to the right medication regimen, what are some things that people continuing to live with HIV need to know to remain healthy?

A: This is an important question. The widespread use of potent combination of drugs that can totally suppress HIV replication and restore immune function has dramatically extended the lives of HIV-infected individuals.  A lot of the infections that were killing patients in the 1980’s up to the mid-90’s are being seen far less frequently.   As a result of living much longer, HIV positive patients were now coming in with other conditions that are commonly associated with getting older: Heart Disease, Cancers, Diabetes.

Researchers and clinicians are trying to understand whether people with HIV age faster than people without HIV, and as a consequence, whether they develop certain diseases earlier in life than people without HIV.

Scientific research is starting to reveal how chronic HIV infection affects the risk of other diseases. When you get a cold or the flu, you may be sick for a few days, but then you completely recover from the illness. Once a person is infected by these viruses, it takes the immune system a few days to launch an effective attack against them and eventually eliminate them.