A lot of attention and money have been spent on HIV prevention in the black community—we make up almost 50 percent of newly diagnosed cases in the United States—but what happens if you do test positive? Is it the death sentence that it once was in the early ’80s? Not at all. A new report published in The Lancet, states that the life expectancy of HIV patients taking antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in developed countries has increased more than 13 to a total of 49 years after testing positive. AIDS deaths have also dropped by almost 40 percent.

“People on [ARV therapy] can live a fairly long life,” says lead researcher Robert Hogg, from the British Colombia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. “If they are a woman, they can marry and have a child and see the child grow up. If they’re going to school, they can graduate from university.”
But the researchers stress that people with HIV still fall through the cracks of the medical system and that not enough people are getting tested and linked to care to reap the benefits of the life-saving medications.

Learn where to get tested in your area at hivtest.org. Read more about living with HIV/AIDS in RH’s sister magazine, POZ, and at AIDSmeds.com.