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my cousin has lost 150 pounds; Does he have HIV? What can I do?
Dec 23, 2001

My cousin is 35 years old. Within two years he went from 270 pounds to 120 pound or less. He is in pain. He tells me that the pain is in his lower back. He is weak and has trouble breathing. He has two small lumps on his left arm. He won't go to the doctor. Are this signs of AIDS or HIV?

Response from Dr. Dezube

Clearly weight loss of 150 pounds is very significant and is a sign of serious disease. Although he could have HIV/AIDS, many other diseases such as cancer, untreated diabetes, and so on can cause profound weight loss. Folks like your cousin are unfortunately all too common. They live in either tremendous fear of what they have or in tremendous denial. Often, once a diagnosis is made and treatment begun, they make fine patients who often do quite well. Does he have a good friend, a family member (you or someone else), a clergyman, or co-worker with whom he would feel comfortable going to a health care provider? You must be pulling your hair out in frustration. Until he seeks help, your options are quite limited. I feel for you. I've walked this similar road with many family members.

I so remember one of my patients who also was brought in nearly dead by his partner. He went from 220 pounds to 110 pounds. He was treated (he had AIDS and many of its complications). He is now back to his original weight, he's healthier than he's every been, and he's on a much higher spiritual plane. Don't lose hope on your cousin.


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