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How long?
Oct 17, 2005

My basic question is how long can I expect to remain off of meds? I tested positive in 1996 with a viral load over 1,000,000 and t-cells in the mid 300s. Immediately started Crixivan by itself and within a few months was undetectable and t-cells were in the high 800s. After a couple of years, I switched to Sustiva only, because of kidney pain and viral load remained undetectable with t-cells in the 800s. In 2001 I came off meds completely because of cholesterol problems. After stopping it took over 6 months for my viral load to inch above undetectable. For the first couple of years, my viral load remained below 10,000 and t-cells stayed in the 800s. The last couple of years, my viral load had fluctuated from 10,000 - 30,000, except a low 2600 this past spring. My last test in August 2005, show a viral load of 50,000 and t-cells at 698. What is the longest period anyone has remained off meds?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The studies to answer the question you pose, in people who have been on meds and then stopped are still being conducted. We know of many people who have never had to start, because their immune system was able to contain the virus replication itselt without meds. There are also people like you who been able to come off and maintain their CD4 count for significant periods of time, some continuing to stay off and some having to go back on meds because their CD4 counts declined. I don't think we know the final answer for how long one could stay off because it does depend on your underlying immune system and the virus you got.



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