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Scared and lost
May 3, 2009

My brother was just diagnosed. He is in the critical care unit of our local hospital with PCP Pneumonia. His T-Cell count is 38. He is on 100% oxygen and his blood oxygen levels will not level off. The Dr. seems to think he will have an extended stay. I am scared that he won't come out. I have no idea what anything means, I don't know where to go for help or how to help him. I am reading on here about viral loads, and etc and I don't what any of that means! I know we need to get his T-cell count up to 200, but this is just to much information overload and I am not absorbing it. Somebody please explain it to me step by step and tell me what to do. He only has me and my sister, no parents, wife, kids. He is 41 years old and I am not ready to lose him. They tell me his Dr. is the best in this area, but that doesn't help me. I need specifics on the disease and what I should be doing and looking for in one e-mail or answer, not searching all over and getting different answers and trying to process all the information and determing what is fact and what is just positive thinking. I need reality!

Response from Dr. Holodniy

There is not getting around the fact that your brother has very advanced HIV infection and therefore AIDS (defined as a CD4 count < 200), with a very serious pneumonia on top of that. He has this type of pneumonia because his CD4 count (a proxy for the immune system as a whole) is so low. At this point he needs to get the pneumonia stabilized and oxygen requirements down. The antibiotics and likely steroids he is receiving will help make that happen. What his HIV viral load is currently is not important. If they can start HIV treatment now, or perhaps in the next few days, that is one of the most important things that can be done to accelerate recovery.



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