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For my friend
Jul 16, 2006

My friend's partner has been HIV positive for about 12 years. He has had many bouts with thrush, flu's that take forever to go away, and recently a severe case of dehydration requiring hospitalization. I'm not sure of what his viral load is, but his t-cell count is 26. He says that his doctor has not used the terminology "AIDS". Isn't a CD4 count of 26 considered full blown AIDS? He takes no medication, because he says it makes him sick. What is the correct way to encourage my friend and his partner? I admit that I do not know as much as I should and need advice on how I can be more supportive and be less fearful. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I applaud your interest and support. An absolute CD4 count of < 200 or 14% indicates an AIDS diagnosis. Thus an absolute CD4 count of 26 represents significant immune system impairment and places people as very significant risk of developing severe opportunistic infections. At the very least he needs to be on a least a couple of antibiotics to prevent several of these kinds of infections. An aggressive search should be undertaken to get the right combination of HIV meds that he can tolerate and that his virus does not have resistance to. Appropriate HIV meds can generally reverse the progression of disease. The patient has to be willing to take the meds and work through any side effects, even if it requires additional treatment to control these side effects.



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