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cd-4 @ 54 load @ 60,000
Apr 26, 2002

Dear Dr. Young: I contracted HIV through my first sexual experience in October of 1996. Through complications, I was actually tested positive in late '97. Over the past six years I have done everything but face the issue, and now the time has come for me to start meds. I finally wiped my tears up and went to a doctor a month ago. My bloodwork came back and my CD-4 was 54 and my viral load was 60,000. Being completely ignorant of my situation, I asked him what phase of HIV I was in, and he told me there aren't phases, that it's completely individualistic. He said I'm doing pretty good, but I have to wonder if he was merely offering words of encouragement because I've suffered a serious bout with shingles, thrush... eye infections... throat infections... and just yesterday it appears that my face might be breaking out again. After getting the nerve to face my condition and make attempts at prolonging life instead of ignoring it, I've found your site on the web and have learned that I'm not in any phase of HIV because I now have AIDS. The doctor prescribed Trizivir and some preventive antibiotics, which in themselves have caused substantial side effects. The Trizivir, however, is almost 1,400 a month. My insurance only pays for generic prescriptions, and I make less than 25,000 a year. After learning about the seriousness of my condition and the fact that I should have been on meds a long time ago, I'm scared that I've waited too long, but am keeping my head high in hopes of at least a small recovery of a life that has regardlessly been very blessed for me. I've been trying everything from Medicare (or Medicaid; I get them confused) to the health dept., trying to get some help. They've all told me that I basically have to have one foot in the ground for them to get meds for me, and that if I'm okay to work, they can't help me (in so many words). Doctor Young, with a count of 54, I'm learning that I'm way beyond where I should be in treatment, and if I can't get my medicine very, very soon, I might not be able to ever get healthy enough again to make it back home to see my family. Or I might not make it to see the age of 27; both of which would obviously be very important and pleasing to anyone. I don't know anyone who is HIV or has AIDS, and I don't know where else to turn to for assistance. Do you know of any programs that might be able to help me out on an immediate and prolonged basis; being that I'm past HIV status? I'm very much eager to hear back from you or anyone of your surrounding doctors. I'm extremely confused, scared and frustrated. I understand that you get a volume of letters, surely on a daily basis... but I very much hope and pray to hear from you soon. Thank you very much for being there for me and all these other people whose letters I've read on this site. People like you and these other doctors are like angels to people like me. Thank you again.

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your questions and commnets.

Sounds like you have quite advanced immunodepletion and AIDS-- as such, you should be eligible for a variety of support services, legal and medical. Typically our patient's access these through our social workers or local AIDS service organizations. I'd strongly encourage you to contact one of these agencies (they can actually be found in the yellow pages); alternatively, you can contact your local University Infectious Diseases Department to speak with or locate the appropriate persons.

It would think that there should be some means of getting medications support-- these would extend from ADAP (AIDS drug assistance programs) to pharmaceutical patient assistance programs. Also consider the possibility of enrolling in clinical trials for HIV treatment, the later might be able to provide both medications and clinical follow up, as well as answer important clinical science questions. (Ask your local University or contact the NIH's ACTG- with many local sites across the country (http://aactg.s-3.com/).

Hope this is a useful start. Stay in touch, BY



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