May 30, 2010
I know you deal with lab numbers and how well patients do. Someone just told me that there have only been 2 studies done on how long HIVers should live. I'm not sure if that is true. I know I read one where it said the average lifespan after diagnosis is only like 22 years. I've read what HIV docs say about this. Most of them believe with proper care, no one should die from AIDS. They say it is other health issues we have to watch out for like heart attacks, cancers, etc. I often wonder how they know this as HAART has only been around for 14 years.
I've also heard many say if people are adherent to meds, they shouldn't get resistant. Other things say resistance will likely occur anyways. So, I'm wondering what you believe the outlook is for someone starting meds today. I worry that I'm still not on meds due to having good numbers although I've been infected almost a decade. I wonder if I'm putting my health at more risk believing I don't need the meds. Then again, it has saved me 10 years of potentially toxic meds. I'm getting long-winded here, but I also wonder why so much focus on HIV meds toxicity and most of us never consider that about other meds we have to take for life. I know you usually focus on helping with lab numbers, but I know you have anecdotal evidence from patients and have studied HIV.
Response from Dr. Holodniy
I would agree with your comments about what other HIV docs say. Life span projections are just that, calculations. The infection is very individual and the course depends on a multitude of factors including treatment, the viral strain and one's underlying immune system and genetics. You don't indicate what your numbers are. There are certainly a subset of HIV infected folks who have a robust immune response and won't need meds, probably ever. However, the majority of people do require meds to control the virus. Most HIV docs and patients have accepted and understand the balance between toxicity and extended survival and improved quality of life.
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