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do I have aids?
Jun 12, 2005

In february I had my first test for HIV--positive. My blood work indicated that my T-cells were less than 20 and virus load was 80,000 or 800,000, I'm not sure. I must admit I was feeling pretty cruddy for a long time--fevers and nightsweats for a year straight over the last year; oral yeast infection for 11 years; two incidents of pnuemonia, strep; but always managed to get to work, ride my bike and do what I had to do (not effortlessly, no doubt); I've been being treated for my infection for about 3 - 4 months with Sustiva/Truvada, Diflucon, and some other preventive meds. My virus load has really taken a hit. "138" --I don't know the zeros, if any; My T-cells have gone up to about 64; (down from 68 2 months ago) I must admit I feel much better (I was so stupid before--confused, fevered, achy, clumbsy, etc.) TIRED! but now that I've been reading up on HIV/AIDS, I can't help but wonder, do I have AIDS? Everyone else with HIV seems so much healthier "cell-wise" than me, although I think I've been able to do more than most. What's up? I've been afraid to ask.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

If and when someone's T-cell count falls below 200, a diagnosis of AIDS is confirmed. Your initial T-cell count was 20 and consequently you do have an AIDS diagnosis.

I'm delighted you are not on HAART treatment and your viral load has taken a hit. And since we don't know how many (if any) zeros come after the "138," it's a bit hard to comment. In general, as viral load becomes more suppressed, the CD4 count gradually climbs. If not, and if the viral load remains over 1,000, resistance testing may be warranted to see if your virus is still sensitive to your medications. Also, if CD4 cells continue to be relatively stagnant, consideration could be given to switching to a protease inhibitor-based regimen, as this may stimulate additional T-cell regeneration.

I have no doubt your very significant degree of immune deficiency was an underlying cause of many of your health complaints over recent years. I'm hopeful your therapy will lead to both immune reconstitution and improved health.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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