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Infections and treatment while HIV positive
Dec 16, 1999

I hope you can help me. My BF is in the hospital right now with serious Pneumonia, and respitory distress. He also has herpes of the throat and anal area. They have been giving him Pipercillin and now they want to put a tube in his stomach so he will never eat the normal way again. His white blood cells are low, and he has had 3 transfusions so far. His viral load is high, but so are his spirits. Can the pneumonia be caused by food entering in his lungs? And if he gets the feeding tube put in, will he still be able to live a normal life, never eating or drinking again? He has no voice anymore either.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

Food that enters the lungs can ause a chemical kind of pneumonia, but piperacillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic (which means it works against many kinds of bacterial germs) and it sound like his doctor thinks he has bacterial pneumonia. In addition, it sounds like he may herpes esophagitis, which causes tremendous pain with swallowing.

I think the greatest likelihood is that they want to put in the feeding tube so he can get enough nutrition to fight off the pneumonia and heal up from the herpes. This kind of tube does not have to be permanent at all, but even when they are permanent people can still eat and drink-- getting nutrients directly into the stomach just ensures that they will have adequate nutrition.

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