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Dr. Shah
Dr. Shah, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 3898
Experience:  Years of experience in patients' management.
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Is it possible to have HIV for 16 years, without knowing it

Customer Question

Is it possible to have HIV for 16 years, without knowing it or taking any medication for it?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Shah replied 5 years ago.
Welcome to JustAnswer!
Thanks for your question. Please provide me the following information so that I can address your concern appropriately.
Were you ever tested for HIV? Did you experience any symptoms during these years? Can you provide some more details about your scenario?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No, I was not tested during this time period. I've been getting sick a lot in the past year, and my doctor is testing for HIV along with numerous other conditions that affect the immune system. I don't have the results yet, though. Sixteen years ago I dated someone who might have had HIV, although he never told me at the time.
Expert:  Dr. Shah replied 5 years ago.
I am sorry to hear about your problem.
Based on your description, you seem to be getting sick recently and your doctor is looking for a possible cause so that it can be treated effectively. At this point, I don't think that HIV is the only potential cause as there are many other medical illnesses that can produce similar presentation. Moreover, you are not sure about the HIV status of the person you dated long back. I think this is not the right time to worry about HIV. I just wanted to tell you that many people with HIV infection are not aware of their HIV status as they are mostly asymptomatic. It is reasonable to say that everyone with HIV infection will progress to AIDS after several years, and will require treatment. The time to progress to HIV may vary from person to person. It was estimated that about half of the HIV positive patients develop AIDS within 10 years. It is also estimated that 2-3 % of HIV positive patients can go on for 15-20 years without any treatment. So this is a very small proportion that go on for that long time without any treatment. I think you should wait for your test report before jumping into conclusion. Overall, I feel that the odds of getting HIV 16 years ago from an unknown HIV status person, and remaining asymptomatic for that long is low, but not zero.
Please let me know if you have any other question.
Dr. Shah and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Okay, thank you for the explanation! I, too, suspect that something else is causing my illnesses (they could even be stress-related), but when the HIV test came up, I panicked a little.
Expert:  Dr. Shah replied 5 years ago.
I am sorry,,,, I would be surprised too if you tested positive.
This is not a common scenario as most people become symptomatic early on.
I think you should follow your physician advice to manage your symptoms.
Take care.