Life-long… long life?

We are often asked a very simple but very deep question: “how long do I have to live?”

The question is usually asked by one of our friends who has found out that they are HIV positive.  Or it is asked by a relative or friend on behalf of a person who has HIV.

The answer used to be one of “well, it depends on how healthy you are now” and we used to usually talk about 7-10 years after the HIV was originally contracted.

That has all changed now.

Today, when I am asked the question, my response is: “I don’t know! You may end up living as long as I will – or even longer!”

We now have medications which do a good job at suppressing the HIV in most people.  These medicines are adding years, and even decades on to people’s lives.  And our hope is that further medicines will be developed as time goes on.

We are praying for a complete cure too.

But in the meantime – it also depends on whether I am willing to fight!  If I have HIV, then I need to look after myself.  If I need to start the Anti Retroviral Therapy (the main medications used to suppress the HIV virus), then I need to take it life-long!  Every day!  Without fail!

Taking this medication alone is not easy.  Its a life-long effort – and if I am taking the ART, I will need others to help me in this.   My family, my friends, my doctor and health helpers – people who will encourage me and pray with me…

But the hope is this – a life long medication – plus my efforts to fight the virus in me – will lead to a long life!

We are today working with people who have had the virus for over 15 years – and longer – and are living active, meaningful lives.

At the same time, we have seen people who have not taken care of themselves deteriorate and die.  HIV remains a real challenge.

What about you?  Or a loved one you have?  Don’t wait.  Get help.  Fight on.   We are all in this together!

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