Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko made an explosive revelation in court documents saying that he “had HIv” and needed specialised treatment.
Contracting HIV is not a death sentence.
Studies show that a person living with HIV has a similar life expectancy to an HIV-negative person – providing they are diagnosed in good time, have good access to medical care, and are able to adhere to their HIV treatment.
A number of factors can affect the life expectancy of people living with HIV. There are differences in outcomes between different people, depending on these and other factors.
Access to effective HIV treatment and high-quality medical care.
Starting HIV treatment as soon as possible after HIV infection, before the CD4 cell count has dropped to a low level. The sooner you are diagnosed and begin HIV treatment, the better the long-term prospects.
There are important differences in life expectancy according to where you grow up, your income, education, social class and so on.
Gender – women usually live longer than men.
Lifestyle – life expectancy is longer for people who have a balanced diet, are physically active, maintain a healthy weight, avoid excess alcohol or drug use, and remain socially connected. Avoiding smoking is particularly important for life expectancy.
However, over time, HIV can kill cells in the immune system. This can make it difficult for the body to fight serious infections. These opportunistic infections may become life-threatening because they can damage the immune system when it’s already weak.
If a person living with HIV develops an opportunistic infection, they will be diagnosed with stage 3 HIV, or AIDS.
Some opportunistic infections include:
- recurring pneumonia
- brain and spinal cord disease
- different types of lung infections
- chronic intestinal infection
- herpes simplex virus
- fungal infections
- cytomegalovirus infection
Opportunistic infections, especially tuberculosis, remain a major cause of death for people living with stage 3 HIV.
The best way to prevent an opportunistic infection is by adhering to treatment and getting routine checkups. It’s also important to use condoms during sex, get vaccinated, and eat properly prepared foods.