People are living much longer lives HIV positive

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Being diagnosed with HIV today is completely different from being diagnosed 20 years ago.

There have been major advancements in treatment.

According to Dr. Charles Hicks of the UCSD Own HIV Clinic, a 25-year-old male diagnosed with HIV in 2015 will most likely live longer than a 25-year-old male who has not been diagnosed with HIV.

The virus that causes AIDS first came on the scene in the early 80s and things are a lot different now.

Twenty-four years ago, Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV positive.

"Because of the HIV virus I have obtained I have to retire from the Lakers today," Johnson said.

Charlie Sheen announced Tuesday that he is HIV positive.

The manageability of this disease has changed dramatically in two plus decades.

"Many people are still under the presumption that this is a death sentence. That the treatment is worse than the condition. And that may have been the case 15-20 years ago it’s absolutely not the case now," Dr. Hicks said.

He said that years ago, the vast majority of people who got HIV had to take so many pills, with terrible side effects, most got sick and died.

But since then, the therapies have improved so much that many diagnosed now take one pill a day with minimal side effects. 

People are living longer with HIV. The problem? The UCSD Clinic still sees more than 400 new patients a year.

That means the virus is still being transmitted by people having unprotected sex and using IV drugs.

However, if you get treated soon after diagnosis and stay the course, Dr. Hicks says there is a good chance of completely controlling the virus.

"Seek attention from an experienced HIV provider link themselves to appropriate services and stay in care," Dr. Hicks said.

Magic Johnson is alive and well more than 20 years after being diagnosed.

He’s a businessman who owns Starbucks, movie theaters, and a portion of the Dodgers baseball team.

Will Charlie Sheen fare the same? He says his partying ways are over and his philanthropic days now being.

Time will tell, but the medicine to keep his virus under control will be there.

AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV, when the immune system has been so damaged that it is vulnerable to infections and cancer.

Without treatment, doctors say, people typically survive about three years.

Again, that’s why staying the course of treatments is critical for the health of those diagnosed with HIV. 

Categories: Health