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Lymphoma- When did I get it
Mar 25, 2001

Dear Dr Dezube, I was recently diagnosed HIV positive, my inital numbers CD4 250 and VL 5000.Started medication and responded well became undetectable within 3 months,then was diagnosed with AIDS related NHL, very advanced. The oncologist believes I've been sick with lymphoma at least 6 months. How is this possible when I tested neg 18 months prior and neg each year prior to that.How is it possible that I have AIDS so early? My Dr can't answer my questions. I know when I was exposed and that was just after I last tested neg because my boyfriend's condom broke and he was also diagnosed with HIV at the same time I was,but his numbers indicate that he's been infected awhile and his last test was in 91.What does this mean to my longevity and future health.

Response from Dr. Dezube

It is not uncommon for patients to try and figure out exactly when they got infected and when they came down with lymphoma. Often it is impossible to know. The fact that your CD4 count is 250 would suggest to me that you had HIV for quite some time. It is conceivable that you came down with HIV in the past 18 months (since your last negative test), but you viral load of 5000 is not all that high. With a viral load of 5000, it would be unusual for your HIV to progress so quickly to a CD4 count of 250. So I can't be any more specific than your doctor (sorry); sometimes we just can't figure out the timing. What is much more important for you to know is that HIV-related lymphoma is very treatable. Given the fact that your viral load is now undetectable, you should do well both from an HIV standpoint and from a lymphoma standpoint. So I urge you to look forward to getting over your lymphoma, rather than look backwards trying to understand the timing. Good luck. BD.

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