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Side effects too much
Nov 13, 2000

First off, thank you for all the valuable time and energy you put into this form. It is not taken for granted!

Since his diagnosis, a close friend has been on Viracept and Combivir (about 3 years). The problem is that either or both give him horrendous side effects. His diarrhea is constant and his nausea is always lurking right around the corner making him hyper-vigilant about everything he does and everything he eats. (He sometimes vomits at the slightest cause). Needless to say, his quality of life is greatly diminished because of this combination.

However, even though it's his first combination, his HIV specialist tells him not to consider a change since his counts have done so well on it.

My question is this: in your opinion, would it be reasonable to consider other (friendlier) combinations? If so, what other options might he have and what would be the safest way to make the switch?

Response from Dr. Pavia

In this day and age, it is usually not necessary to suffer severe side effects in order to stay suppressed. First you need to make sure that the side effects of the Viracept and combivir could not be helped. Oat bran tablets, calcium supplements, (2-3 tums 3 times a day) and immodium are all helpful for the diarrhea. Most people should not give up until they have tried all three with a generous amount of immodium. Nausea is sometimes a symptom of the AZT component of combivir. Switching to D4T and 3TC can often help.

Without knowing all of the past regimens, I really cannot suggest what the best switch would be, but in general, if the side effects are really impacting quality of life, even after reasonable management, it may be time to switch. If he has never been on D4T/DDI those might be substituted for combivir. Switching to another protease combination (indinavir ritonavir perhaps) or substituting a non nuke are options. However, it is important to know what drugs were taken in the past and what might have failed in the past.

Good luck to your friend.


Andrew T. Pavia, M.D.

HIV+ with COPD
Suddenly the bottom...

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