Your life is not over

You have a long life ahead of you. A person who is diagnosed with HIV in a timely way will have close to a normal life expectancy. Even ‘late’ diagnosis, when HIV has begun to damage the immune system, is easier to treat than ever before, due to the wide range of medication available. If you are diagnosed in a timely way, and you take your medicine as prescribed, you will not develop AIDS or experience problems with your immune system.

You can still enjoy a meaningful life:

  • Sex without fear of passing the virus on
  • Partnerships and marriage
  • Having children (or donating eggs or sperm)
  • Working and studying

Treatment is easier than ever. Most people are taking one pill each day and experiencing few side effects. They see their usual GP with occasional visits to an HIV specialist.

Keeping an eye on your health. You will get regular blood tests to confirm that treatment is working for you. These tests are monitoring two things. Your viral load measures how fast HIV is replicating (making new copies of itself) in your body. Your CD4 count measures the impact of HIV on your immune system.

Can’t pass it on. There is scientific consensus that a person with a viral load under 200 cannot pass on HIV during sex, even if condoms are not used. This is based on rigorous studies, involving lots of people, which did not find a single occasion where HIV was transmitted from a person with suppressed viral load. This includes all kinds of sex (oral, anal, vaginal) between heterosexual and same-gender couples. Most people on HIV treatment in Australia have a viral load under 200.

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