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will I ever be able to take a drug holiday
Sep 10, 2001

Hi again,

I wrote to you before about my OI's and that I was concerned about when I was going to start my medications. I came out of the hospital the last time in June of this year with a CD4 count of 27, since then, by itself, my CD4 has risen to 74 and continues to increase with treatment. I was and am still being treated for PCP even though a recent CT-Scan showed no signs of PCP in my lungs. I am currently on a research study and getting great results with very little to no side effects. My question being... If someone has dipped down that low and experienced a OI, Do you think they will ever be able to fully recover to a healthy CD4 count, (ie 600+) and therefore be able to take a drug holiday in the future. I took your advice and started taking Zithromax once a week for prevention of MAC. That, thank goodness I will be able to come off of completely in a few weeks. I know that I have many years to go before I will be able to take a drug holiday... but was wondering if it would ever be possible. I guess when I see people that have had MAC and PCP and get to over 200 CD4 and still have reaccurance because, as you say the immune system now identifies the virus. Some insight of your knowledge would be greatly appreciate. You're the best.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

I have seen people with CD4 cell counts as low as yours was and even lower-- zero, in fact-- who now have over 500-600 (or more) Cd4 cells, so it's definitely possible. How long this may take varies with the individual, but I've seen it happen within a few years (2-3). So hang there and keep on taking your HIV medicines the way you're supposed to, and hopefully you'll get to where you want to be.

Thanks for your positive words about being in a study-- without people like you, we would never have come as far as we have in treating HIV. And thanks for the personal kind words!


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