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Obi Wan Holodniy
Feb 16, 2014

Hi Dr. Mark,

I asked Dr. Keith this question as well, and was happy he agreed that, in SOME patients, having a pet can lower stress levels and lower the probability of having depressive side effects from Atripla. I am positive this is the case with me, because almost as soon as I started babysitting my brother's dog, I noticed my depressive symptoms nearly vanished and now I feel like I'm more social with people and just generally happier.

Now my question is this: I'm really close to being undetectable (having vl 100, and cd4 520), could lowering my stress levels and depression help make me undetectable? My initial labs were: VL 250, CD4: 342 (started Atripla) next labs: VL: 242, CD4: 395, 3rd labs (started watching my brother's dog 2 weeks before) VL: 120, CD4: 460, most recent labs: VL: 100, CD4: 526. I was excited to finally see that my VL finally dropped below 200! Is it just luck that the vl dropped, or could it actually be because of the reduction in stress levels?

Thank you!

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Although the stress theory is plausible, we just don't have good studies that can measure specific markers related to stress (other than blood cortisol levels) to determine reduction in stress can lead to reduction in HIV viral load.



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