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HIV/AIDS (cont.)

HIV/AIDS Prognosis

There is no cure for HIV infection. Before we had any treatment for the virus, people with AIDS lived only for a couple of years. Fortunately, medications have substantially improved the outlook and survival rates. Prevention efforts have reduced HIV infection in young children and have the potential to limit new infections in other populations.

  • Medications have extended the average life expectancy, and many people with HIV can expect to live for decades with proper treatment. An increasing number have a normal life expectancy if they adhere carefully to medication regimens.
  • Medications help the immune system recover and fight infections and prevent cancers from occurring. Eventually, the virus may become resistant to the available drugs, and the manifestations of AIDS may develop.
  • Drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS do not eliminate the infection. It is important for the person to remember that he or she is still contagious even when receiving effective treatment.
  • Intensive research efforts are being focused on developing new and better treatments. Although currently there is no promising vaccine, work continues on this front.

HIV Picture

Transmission electron micrographic image showing mature forms of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a tissue sample.
This transmission electron micrographic image shows mature forms of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a tissue sample. (SOURCE: CDC)


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/5/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

HIV Disease »

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease was first described in 1981 among 2 groups—one in San Francisco and the other in New York City.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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