A person with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is likely to live longer than the one with severe diabetes or high blood pressure.
While AIDS virus cuts life by five years if contracted in 20s, when compared to, say, diabetes, which takes away 10-15 years, if developed when a person is in 40s.
India has 2.39 million people living with HIV, and 50.8 million with diabetes.
"New medicines have transformed HIV from a death sentence into a chronic disease that has a very, very small impact on your life expectancy if you start treatment early and do not smoke, drink or have diabetes," says Dr Charles Gilks, UNAIDS country coordinator for India. "HIV has a much lower impact on survival and life expectancy than cancer, severe diabetes or nasty high blood pressure."
This is borne out from survival data from North America and Europe, which, says Gilks, holds true even for less developed countries such as India, where malnutrition lowers immunity further and puts people with HIV at higher risk of infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
HIV wrecks the body's immune system to the point where it cannot fight off common bacterial, viral and fungal infections, which eventually cause death. HIV drugs keep the virus levels down. India treats 4.48 lakh people free under a national programme.