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My brother just told me he has HIV, but he didn't tell me how much time he has before he gets AIDS. What's the average time someone has before they get AIDS?

Having the right information can definitely help in supporting your brother, so we are glad to help.

Being diagnosed with HIV today is very different than it was a decade ago. Thanks to new advances in medical care and HIV treatment, people living with HIV can lead long lives without advancing to the state we know as AIDS.

Evidence indicates several of the following factors contribute to a better quality of life for people living with HIV:

  • Early diagnosis: Knowing ones status early in the progression of HIV, would mean access to care and early initiation to treatment
  • HIV medication adherence: By taking the medications (known as ART – anti retro virals) as prescribed, replication of HIV can be significantly slowed down thus avoiding progression to AIDS.
  • HIV medical care: Being connected with a specialized HIV care team can help in managing medications, side-effects and co-infections if they may occur and staying healthy.
  • Access to support: An HIV diagnosis can be psychologically stressful, so accessing groups and programming or other supports can lead to better quality of life.

While there are still cases of people being diagnosed with AIDS in Manitoba, research indicates that a late diagnosis of HIV infection is associated with AIDS. HIV positive individuals who do not access treatment or care, could progress to AIDS usually between 10–15 years, but sometimes longer. With improved access to care and newer advances in treatment there is no such thing as average time for an AIDS diagnosis, and there are effective ways for HIV positive people to avoid progressing to AIDS.

People living with HIV can definitely lead a productive and active life, have negative sexual partners and HIV negative children. By taking ART medications correctly and consistently with the support of a specialized care team, your brother can keep his immune system strong enough to prevent him from ever developing AIDS and lead a productive life.