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20 and + for 2 years
Nov 1, 2005

Dr. Frascino, I got the virus when I was 18. I am 20, and in college right now and have basically no support close to me, and my family has no clue. I am just trying to stay healthy as long I can. My first bloodtest on 03/04- VL 2814 Tcell 338, nearly a year later it was VL 7705 tcell 853, 04/05 it was VL 3806 tcell 688. 05/05 it was VL 5471 tcell 507. Since 05/05 I haven't been checked because I am at a different school, and don't feel comfortable here getting help. Basically I want to know what I can do to prolong my life without drugs i.e. diets and vitamins. Now I know that it's better to get your vitamins through food, but I don't have a clue what's really healthy to eat and what's not. I have been constant at 5'10 150 since highschool, except when I first got sick I lost over 10 lbs. In addition to eating better, I do take vitamins like A,E,B6,B12,Echinicea,AlphaLipoicAcid,Zinc and Royal Jelly, but I don't take them everyday, just every few days, but I do usually take all of them together, and I don't know if I should or should not be doing this or should I take some together and some separately? As a side not are there any websites to inform hiv+ people about possible cures, or treatment programs/trials going on. thanks so much

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I believe you have articulated the most important aspect of your situation by saying, "I am just trying to stay healthy as long as I can!" That is what you need to focus on. Unfortunately staying healthy with HIV involves a great deal more than just juggling vitamins. The most important thing you need to do is establish a relationship with a competent (and hopefully compassionate) HIV/AIDS specialist. If you are writing from the U.S., you can check the American Academy of HIV Medicine's Web site. They have a listing of certified HIV/AIDS specialists by location (www.aahivm.org). Next, I'd suggest you spend some time reviewing the information on this Web site and related links. Begin with the Quick Links on The Body's homepage. By clicking on the "Just Diagnosed" link, you'll find information related to Diet and Nutrition, finding and working with an HIV specialist physician, AIDS service organizations and even online resources.

So far your viral loads have remained low and your CD4 (T-cell) counts, reasonably high (but beginning to drift downward). Generally speaking, we would not recommend considering HAART (HIV medication) until your CD4 (T-cell) count dropped consistently into the 250-350 range. Most specialists would recommend following your viral load and T-cell counts every three months.

Next, you need to develop a support network. If you are not ready to disclose your status to your family, that's a personal decision, but you need a support network nonetheless. Perhaps you could begin with your closest friends? Ultimately I do hope you advise your parents of your positive status. I know how difficult this can be, having gone through this process myself; however, ultimately most families will rally to the challenge and hopefully provide you with love and support.

I also want you to know I'm here if you need me, O.K.? Let's both "stay healthy as long as we can," O.K.?

Dr. Bob


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