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PML and low helper cells
Mar 31, 2000

I was diagnosed with PML in February 2000 after comparing the results of an MRI in December 1999 and January 2000. My neurologist has only seen 2 other cases of PML which were further in the disease progression than I appear to be. He and my HIV specialist are afraid to try any experimental treatments for PML and suggest that I will get progressively worse by the end of the year.I have had an undetectable viral load for 3 months, but my helper cells have only climbed from <20 to 104. I started taking combivir, norvir, and crixivan in September 1999 but my doctor changed my meds to epivir, zerit, and sustiva in January. Can my low helper cell count be why my doctors are afraid to use experimental treatments? They want to wait and see what happens -- is this advisable? Is there a way to increase my helper cells? Thanks for your answers.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

You're already doing what you can to improve your T cells by taking combination therapy for HIV. Some people have a slower rise in T cells than others, and although you haven't had the fastest possible rise, a slow and steady one will work, too. HIV medicines may be your best bet for treating the PML. The investigational drug for PML, cidofovir, won't hurt your T cells but can have other side effects. If your PML is mild, you might want to give the HIV therapy some more time to work. Take your HIV meds religiously. Good luck!

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