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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
         
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Will Procrit work for Everyone?
Feb 14, 2001

I have AIDS. I was diagnosed with anemia while I was in prison at Federal Medical Center, Rochester. My doctors were from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I was started on three injections of Procrit per week. They did bloodwork and to determine the anemia but did more bloodwork and determined that Procrit would not work for me because of certain levels in my blood that came back as normal. What else can I try?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Procrit is dramatically helpful for a variety, but not all HIV-related anemias. The first thing to do is to try to determine the cause of your anemia. For instance, if it were related to iron or vitamin deficiencies, this would be treated with replacement therapy. If, on the other hand, it's related to Parvo Virus B-19, an opportunistic infection, the most effective therapy is intravenous gammaglobulin. Another opportunistic infection called MAC (Mycobacterium Avium Complex) can also be associated with anemia and would be treated with antibiotics. Another possibility would be a side effect of one of your HIV medications. If so, perhaps there's an alternative drug you could substitute. Finally, you might be losing blood through your stool (dark, tarry stools).

The blood test your physicians probably ran is a serum erythropoietin level. If your level is greater than 500, Procrit (synthetic erythropoietin) may not be as effective.

Hopefully, your physicians are now doing additional tests to further identify the exact cause or causes of your anemia. If no cause is determined other than HIV, a trial of Procrit may still be worthwhile even if your erythropoietin level is above 500.

Good luck. Write back if you're still having problems following a more thorough anemia workup.

RJF


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