The oldest-known man living with HIV is about to turn 100 years old.
The man, known only as Miguel, is from Portugal and is referred to as the “Lisbon patient” as his family asked for his identity not to be revealed.
Although he suffers the usual problems that come with old age, such as poor hearing and eyesight, he is still healthy and lives alone, according to Canadian news channel CTV.
Doctors believe the man’s long life is down to him frequently taking antiretroviral medicine.
In an interview with the network, Miguel said: “I don’t really know how to explain it.
“I feel happy because I’ve spent these years without the hardship,” he adds, speaking about his good health.
“I feel fit enough, too, to take care of all my routines, to get dressed, to put my shoes on, to go to bed. I do all of that at home alone.”
Currently, his treatment regimen consists of two nightly antiretroviral pills. He has never smoked and has always been active.
Miguel found out he was HIV positive in 2004, after he was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties.
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Doctors discovered he had a lymphoma and a very low CD4 white blood cell count.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defence against illness, but people with HIV can enjoy a long and healthy life by taking antiretroviral treatment.
The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a CB4 cell, and makes copies of itself inside these cells – which gradually weakens the immune system.
However, once a person has HIV, the earlier they are diagnosed, the sooner they can start treatment which means they will enjoy better health in the long term.
Following diagnosis, Miguel was successfully treated and placed on antiretroviral medication, which brought his viral load down to an undetectable level.
His doctor, Dr Henrique Santos, told CTV that when Miguel first sought treatment, he had doubts over how his body would respond.
‘When this patient came to me at this age, I had some doubts that he should be treated,” he said. “Everything went well, but it could have gone wrong.”
An Italian HIV specialist, Dr Giovanni Guaraldi, told the new channel that Miguel is believed to be the oldest known person living with HIV.
“We need to make people know. There (are) still a lot of people living with HIV that consider their disease something dreadful while actually… regardless (of) experiencing and living with a chronic disease, you still can experience healthy ageing.”