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Stopping medications for vacation to U.S.

Dec 1, 2000

I'm planning to take a two week holiday soon to Hawaii and am concerned about bringing my meds. across the border (I'm Canadian) because, as you know, being HIV pos. I am not legally allowed to enter the U.S. I am currently taking nevirapine, 3TC, and D4T. My viral load is undetectable since Nov. 97 and my T4 is currently 640 (stable). What will happen if I stop all medications for two weeks? Is there any way particular way to stop, ie. stop one sooner than the others? How risky is this? Thanks for the help.

Response from Dr. Stryker

If you stop all meds, your viral load will probably rise a bit in two weeks -- how much is hard to predict. There is little risk of resistance if you take a two week holiday, than go right back on drugs when you return, but I am not especially advocating this strategy. After all, one can't reasonably plan to do this every time you travel, or the risks would aggregate.

You should consider checking with an immigration specialist or lawyer, to evaluate the risks and possible legal scenarios. Discuss the decision with your doctor, of course. If you do stop, it is probably fine to stop all at once. Alternatively, you could stop the nevirapine a couple days earlier than the other two, as it may hang around in the body a bit longer at low levels. Apologies in advance for the arcane immigration laws! RAS

Rick Stryker, M.D., M.P.H.

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