Not every patient who has been diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will have the same life expectancy. Many factors may influence HIV life expectancy, including the quality of medical care an infected patient receives. The person's age when he contracts the disease may also play a factor in the life expectancy of an HIV patient. Another crucial factor in HIV life expectancy is whether the patient has symptoms of full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
HIV statistics have changed dramatically since the virus was first recognized. When AIDS first became prevalent worldwide, patients diagnosed with the disease were given a grim prognosis. It was nearly always considered to be a fatal disease. While there still is no known cure for the virus that causes aids, HIV can be controlled with proper medical intervention and treatment. As for HIV life expectancy, proper health care and lifestyle choices can improve the prognosis and extend the life expectancy considerably.
One factor affecting HIV life expectancy is early diagnosis and treatment. Certain drugs can stop reproduction of the virus. Preventing the HIV virus from reproducing significantly lowers risk of the infected person developing full-blown AIDS. AIDS is what causes the body's immune system to weaken and become vulnerable to life-threatening infection.
In underdeveloped countries where HIV patients do not have access to medical treatment for this disease, the life expectancy may be 50 percent lower than in other populations. Patients who had been in poor health prior to contracting HIV and had neglected to seek proper health care may also have a shorter life expectancy.
HIV life expectancy may be reduced in a patient with a pre-existing medical condition, such as cancer. For instance, if a terminal cancer patient were to contract the HIV virus, his life expectancy would most likely be reduced. Other pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease will also influence life expectancy.
Many physicians and AIDS specialists believe that highly active anti-retroviral therapy can influence HIV life expectancy. These groups of drugs can inhibit the virus from reproducing, thus prolonging a patient's life. Drugs used in this form of therapy, however, do pose a risk of potential side effects for some patients.
Other factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle choices, can also affect HIV life expectancy. Smoking, excessive drinking, or the use of recreational drugs may reduce the life expectancy of an HIV patient. Conversely, healthy lifestyle choices such as receiving proper nutrition and daily exercise, may extend life expectancy.