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HIV drugs just for one year?
Mar 17, 2002

I was recently infected with HIV, within 30 days of infection I was dignosed with HIV. My doctor said I may only have to take HIV drugs for one to two years. Everyone else I know is taking them for life. Why is this? Someone I heard refered to this to as (STI), maybe? What does this stand for? How successful has this been?

Response from Dr. Pavia

There are some important differences between beginning treatment within a few weeks of being infected and beginning later. Within a few months of infection, HIV seems to destroy a number of the HIV-specific CD4 helper cells that direct the immune system in its fight against HIV. There is some very preliminary experience, mostly from Bruce Walker and Eric Rosenberg at Harvard, that persons who begin treatment during acute infection (like you) can interrupt treatment and restore the immune response. So far, this has been done only in a research setting, and is not generally recommended, until we know more about the best way to plan interruptions and follow the response.

If at all possible, you might want to see if you can participate in research on how best to manage your treatment. Groups at the Massachussets General Hospital in Boston, the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Institute in New York, and the University of Geneva are prominent in this area.

The bottom line is that you MIGHT be able to interupt therapy after one-two years because of the special situation you are in. This is different than most people with HIV. In the meantime, I would not change anything, and wait for the research to make the answer become more clear.


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