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Lipodystrophy and WastingLipodystrophy and Wasting
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Loss of Muscle Mass
Jan 25, 2003

My sister has had HIV for approx. 10 yrs. She is currently experiencing a loss of muscle mass. Is this a symptom and if it is, what are some treatments? Her condition at the last blood test was non-detectable.

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

First it will be important to determine that it really is a loss of muscle mass. Getting a body composition test done will be most helpful because it will help to differentiate muscle losses from other problems and will help to determine potential causes.

Weight loss and body composition changes happen differently if they are caused by diet/starvation, exercise with a minor calorie imbalance, and acute events (infections and such). The treatment depends very much on the cause.

If, for instance, the cause is an infection then treating the infection and checking to make sure that eating well and activity levels pick up during recovery can work well. Still, she should be monitored for body composition to make sure that her body is responding appropriately by normalizing weight and lean tissues.

If the problem is not eating quite enough, then fat loss is often favored over lean (especially in women) and eating appropriately is a bigger part of the answer. Again, monitoring body composition will help to tell if she is responding appropriately.

Best wishes in working with your sister on this!

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