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Viread side effects?
Oct 13, 2003

Briefly, I'm 50 yrs old, positive since 1989 and have been on a variety of meds since then. For the last three years I've been on Agenerase, Kaletra, Epivir, and Zerit. My t-cells bounce around between 350 and 500 and my viral load has remained undetectable, except for a "blip," as my doctor calls it every 9-12 months. During these "blips" my viral load shows up at 100 to 500, but then disappears for another extended period. This time my doctor decided to try and stop this and had me stop taking Zerit (after a genotype showed a partial resistance at that point) and start taking Viread in its place. I've been on the same regimine including the Viread now for two weeks and feel awful. My muscles ache like flu symptoms, I feel slightly nauseous most of the time, and worst of all, I have no energy. My blood tests have never shown any sign of my being close to anemic. I'm wondering if I can expect these Viread symptoms to go away -- I was feeling fine without it. I haven't found anything in the literature that talks about side effects quite like I'm experiencing. I'd rather that my doctor had not changed this drug since things weren't going badly, given my three year+ pattern, but he is committed to complete, lasting undetectability. It's more important to me to be able to continue to work and live a somewhat normal life. I guess I'm looking for a second opinion.

Thanks, Stan

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Stan,

HIV drugs are very potent and can have a wide array of side effects. True, Viread is considered to have fewer potential side effects than some other drugs, but if no other cause for your symptoms has been found, and if these symptoms began at the time of your switch from Zerit to Viread, then this indeed could be the problem or part of the problem. Clinical studies have shown nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence are the most likely short-term side effects of Viread.

So what to do? See your HIV specialist or get a second opinion to completely evaluate your current condition. A temporary medication switch and then re-challenge with Viread may be necessary to firmly establish Viread as the culprit. Other causes are still very much a possibility. I should also mention many medication side effects are transient. These side effects may resolve or at least get significantly better during the first 6-8 weeks of therapy. If, however, the medication side effects last longer than this, they aren't likely to spontaneously resolve, and a change of medications might be in order.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

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