Emma (flying_colours) wrote in little_details,

AIDS symptoms/life expectancy

(Sorry, mods, I accidentally hit the send button WAY too early)

I have a character who has been infected with HIV for quite some time without knowing it. He's only just found out now that the illness has hit the full-blown AIDS stage. This character is a friend to the main characters and doesn't have a very central role, so I'm very flexible as to details.

Firstly, I know that after the initial HIV symptoms present themselves there might be no symptoms years before the illness progresses to AIDS. How realistic is it that he would have ignored the initial symptoms, and not gotten tested until he's at the AIDS stage, and how long might he have been positive without knowing? I'm finding it's an average of about ten years, but is it likely that an otherwise fit and healthy man might still develop AIDS in a shorter timespan, say two or three years?

Secondly, once the illness hits the AIDS stage, and he begins getting infections, what is his life expectancy likely to be? Age-wise he's in his mid-40s and has always been quite fit and healthy. He's been feeling under the weather for a while, which he attributed to other factors, but now he's got something that's landed him in the hospital. I'm flexible about the kind of AIDS related illnesses he may have - pneumonia seems like the likeliest contender, so for ease I'll probably go with that. How does a person go from being diagnosed with pneumonia to finding out that he has AIDS? What kind of treatment would he receive? Would the pneumonia definitely kill him, or can it be treated? What other symptoms might be present?

I think basically I'm just unsure of how the illness manifests itself after it gets to the AIDS stage, and how long a person who has never received any treatment could be expected to live from that point on. Google is turning up some articles, of course, but they're too vague.

Oh yeah, and the setting is the USA, in the present day or just a little into the future, but obviously not long enough ahead for any major breakthroughs in HIV treatment!

Thanks for any help!
Tags: usa (misc), ~medicine: illnesses: hiv/aids

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