According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, HIV-positive people can live with the virus for several decades if they are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). The therapy keeps HIV from multiplying and destroying the immune system, preventing the progress of HIV to AIDS.
HIV infection begins with an acute stage, during which symptoms are felt. Following this stage is the clinical latency stage, during which symptoms are not typically felt or felt only mildly. ART significantly extends the likelihood of surviving for several decades, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. If untreated, HIV-positive persons typically live in clinical latency for around 10 years. Individuals on ART are not likely to have their HIV infection reach the AIDS stage. If the viral infection progresses to that stage, survival is estimated at around three years.