The world’s oldest living person with HIV is celebrating his 100th birthday — stunning doctors who call him an “icon of hope” for people living with the disease, according to a new report.
“I feel happy,” the man, who only wanted to be known as Miguel, told CTV News. “I’ve spent these years without hardship and pain.”
Miguel was first diagnosed with the disease 16 years ago in a hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, but is a picture of perfect health because of antiretroviral medication, his doctors said.
“If people take the medication, they can live like other people,” Dr Ines Pintassilgo said. “That’s the main conclusion, I think.”
“I think that’s what he teaches us, that you can live with HIV as long as you have all the other background and living lifestyle and comorbidities [chronic diseases] under control,” Pintassilgo added.
Miguel never smoked and lived a very active life — but attributes his longevity to a far more simple remedy.
“The reason why I have reached such a long age is that every day when I go to bed I make a cup of lemon tea,” he explained. “The good slice of lemon with the rind and the pulp and everything.”
Life expectancy for people living with HIV has increased significantly with the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in the 1990s.
Today, a 20-year-old HIV-positive person taking medication has a life expectancy of 78 years — the same life expectancy of the average US male, according to a study published in Lancet HIV in 2017.
Miguel denied he was a “special case,” but experts said his story could be life-changing for the 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to the UN.
“Of course 100 years is something special!” HIV specialist Dr Giovanni Guaraldi told CTV News from Modena, Italy. “This guy (is) like an icon of hope for people living with HIV.”
“You still can experience healthy ageing,” he said.
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