Life expectancy of people living with HIV (2023)

Important points

  • With the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can lead normal lives.
  • People who respond well to HIV treatment have excellent long-term prospects.
  • You can increase your life expectancy by not smoking and leading a healthy lifestyle.

HIV positive people live longer. Many people living with HIV can expect to live as long as their HIV-free peers.

Studies show that a person living with HIV has a life expectancy similar to that of a person without HIV, provided they are diagnosed early, have good access to medical care, and can continue HIV treatment.

Several factors can affect the life expectancy of people living with HIV. There are differences in results between different people, depending on these and other factors.

  • Access to effective HIV treatmentand quality medical care.
  • Start HIV treatment as soon as possibleafter HIV infection, before the CD4 cell count has dropped to a low level. The sooner you are diagnosed and started on HIV treatment, the better your long-term prospects will be.
  • If you have had serious HIV-related illnesses in the past.This may have occurred prior to HIV diagnosis and/or prior to starting HIV treatment. These diseases have a negative impact on life expectancy.
  • Results one year after starting anti-HIV treatment.Studies show that life expectancy is better for people who respond well within a year of starting treatment than for people who don't. In particular, people whose CD4 count reaches at least 350 and who have an undetectable viral load within a year have very good long-term prospects.
  • year of diagnosis– HIV treatment and care have improved over the years. People diagnosed in recent years are likely to live longer than people who were diagnosed more recently.
  • Other health conditionssuch as heart disease, liver disease and cancer. They are more likely to be the cause of death than HIV.
  • injection drug use– The life expectancy of people with HIV who inject drugs is shorter due to overdose and bacterial infections.

It's also important to consider the things that affect everyone's life expectancy, whether they have HIV or not.

  • Social and Economic Circumstances– There are important differences in life expectancy depending on where you grew up, your income, your education, your social class, etc.
  • Gender– Women generally live longer than men.
  • Genetic– You are more likely to develop certain conditions if your close relatives have them.
  • Mental and emotional well-being– higher levels of stress are associated with reduced life expectancy.
  • Lifestyle– Life expectancy is longer for people who eat a balanced diet, are physically active, maintain a healthy weight, avoid excessive alcohol or drug use, and maintain social connection.avoid smokingit is particularly important for life expectancy.

How is life expectancy calculated?

Life expectancy is the average number of years a person is expected to live.

(Video) Living with HIV - managing symptoms and life expectancy

More specifically, it is the average number of years a person of a given age is expected to live if current mortality rates continue to apply. It is an estimate calculated by looking at the current situation of a group of people and projecting it into the future.

However, HIV is a relatively new disease and HIV treatment is a rapidly changing area of ​​medicine. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether our current experience will be an accurate guide for the future.

Today, many people living with HIV are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. The current mortality rates are very low, which generates encouraging figures for future life expectancy. But we have very little experience with people living with HIV in their 70s or 80s, so we know less about the impact HIV can have later in life.

Medical care for people living with HIV must also improve in the future. People living with HIV will benefit from improved anti-HIV drugs that have fewer side effects, are easier to take, and are more effective in suppressing HIV. Doctors' understanding of the best way to prevent and treat heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases in people living with HIV is improving. This could mean that people are living longer than our current estimates suggest.

When reading about life expectancy, it's important to remember that researchers don't always have access to all the relevant information. For example, they often don't know how physically active people were, whether they smoked or used recreational drugs.

While these factors have a large impact on health, there is no data available to provide accurate estimates of individual life expectancy. So there are estimates based on people's age at HIV diagnosis and CD4 cell count, but we don't have estimates that also take lifestyle and social factors into account.

It is important to remember that life expectancy claims are averages. The unique combination of circumstances in each person's life, including health, lifestyle, and social conditions, affects the actual number of years a person lives. It may be more or less than average.

What is the life expectancy of people living with HIV in the UK?

A study published in 2014 looked at the results of more than 20,000 adults who started HIV treatment between 2000 and 2010 in the UK. The analysis did not include people who inject drugs, who tend to have worse outcomes than other people, but it did include a wide range of adults living with HIV.

The main finding was that people with a good initial response to HIV treatment lived longer than people in the general population.

(Video) Life expectancy for people living with HIV

In particular, a 35-year-old man with a CD4 count greater than 350 and an undetectable viral load (less than 400 copies/mL) one year after starting HIV treatment can expect to live to 81 years of age. An elderly man with the same results after one year of treatment was predicted to be 83 years old. In the general population at that time, men in these age groups were expected to live to be 77 and 78 years of age.

A 35-year-old woman and a 50-year-old woman with the same results could expect to live 83 and 85 years, respectively. This is comparable to ages 82 and 83 in the general population.

"A person living with HIV has a life expectancy similar to that of a person without HIV, provided they are diagnosed early, have good access to medical care and can adhere to HIV treatment."

Life expectancy in people with a CD4 cell count between 200 and 350 and an undetectable viral load one year after starting treatment was similar to that of the general population. For men, a 35-year-old man and a 50-year-old man can expect to live to be 78 and 81 years old, respectively. For women, a life expectancy of 81 and 83 years was predicted for 35 and 50 years, respectively.

Life expectancy was slightly shorter in people who did not initially respond as well to treatment. The results were very similar in each of the following scenarios: CD4 count below 200 and viral load undetectable, CD4 count between 200 and 350 and viral load detectable, and CD4 count above 350 and viral load detectable.

A 35-year-old man with any of these results can expect to live 70-72 years. A life expectancy of 75 to 77 years has been predicted for a 50-year-old man. Women of the same age could expect to live about two years longer than men.

Some people in the study initially responded poorly to treatment: A year later, their CD4 count was below 200 and their viral load was detectable. In this case, a 35-year-old man was expected to live to 61 and a 50-year-old man to 69. Women of the same age were expected to live to 64 and 71, respectively.

Very few people die in the UK today as a direct result of HIV. When deaths do occur, they usually occur within the first year of diagnosis and affect people who were diagnosed with HIV very late, when they were already very sick with HIV. In many of these cases, the person did not attend an HIV clinic or received HIV treatment or received treatment infrequently.

years of good health

Although people living with HIV today have the same or similar life expectancy as people without HIV, studies show that they may live fewer years in good health. People living with HIV appear to have ithigher ratesage-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. A US study found that, on average, people living with HIV are likely to develop severe disease.16 years beforethan those not living with HIV. As with life expectancy, this is likely due to a combination of factors including HIV and its treatment, socioeconomic circumstances, and lifestyle. You can find more information on our pages athealth and aging problems.


With the right treatment and care, most people living with HIV in the UK will live a more or less normal life expectancy. Very few people in the UK still get or die as a direct result of HIV.

(Video) Life expectancy in HIV positive individuals - Dr. Ramakrishna Prasad



A test that measures the number of CD4 cells in the blood and therefore reflects the state of the immune system. The CD4 cell count of a person without HIV can range from 500 to 1,500. When an adult's CD4 count falls below 200, they are at high risk for opportunistic infections and serious illness.

undetectable viral load

A viral load that is too low to be detected by the specific viral load test used, or below an agreed threshold (for example, 50 copies/mL or 200 copies/mL). An undetectable viral load is the first goal of antiretroviral therapy.

last virus

A measure of the amount of virus in a blood sample, expressed as the number of HIV RNA copies per milliliter of blood plasma. Viral load is an important indicator of HIV progression and response to treatment.

(Video) How Long Can a Person Live with HIV ?

detectable viral load

If a viral load is detected, it indicates that HIV is replicating in the body. If the person is receiving HIV treatment but their viral load is detectable, the treatment is not working properly. There may still be a risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.

To diagnose

Determine that a patient has a specific disease or condition by evaluating their medical history, clinical symptoms, and/or laboratory test results.

In fact, the leading causes of morbidity and death in people living with HIV are now quite similar to those in the general population. These include heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. People with HIV can develop these diseases earlier than people without HIV.

A variety of factors affect the risk of developing these disorders. Some of these are things you can't change, like your age, family history of certain diseases, or HIV.

You can change other risk factors. You can increase your life expectancy by not smoking, staying physically active, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol or drug use, and staying socially connected.


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