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can you still be treated with aids?
Aug 19, 2002

Hello. My name is Crystal. My brother just recently found out he had aids when he was hospitalized with pneumonia and his t-cells were down to 19. They say he's looking good to getting out of the hospital in about a month after they get his health back up and get him over the pneumonia. My question is, I keep reading that you can get treated for HIV. Can he still take medications now that he has aids? If so, will these medications help prolong his life? Thank you so much.

-Crystal Pamplin Houston, Texas

Response from Dr. Wohl

Dear Crystal -

Your brother is certainly a candidate for HIV treatment despite being diagnosed with pneumonia and AIDS. In fact, he probably is more in need of such treatment than most as he needs to get his immune system stronger to prevent future infections.

The real debate though is whether he should be treated while he is still recovering from the pneumonia or until he has completed his treatment for this infection. Some clinicians prefer to wait until the infection is treated to start HIV medications. They worry that it might be difficult for someone receiving potent drugs to take even more pills to treat HIV, the possible overlapping side effects between treatments and the risk of the immune system over-reacting and causing problems (so called immune reconstitution syndromes).

On the other hand, getting the immune system boosted a bit may help fight the pneumonia and hasten his recovery. No one knows which approach is best and it likely depends on the type of infection the person has (major studies addressing this issue are being cinducted in the US).

Bottom line is: yes, your brother not only can be treated for his HIV/AIDS, he should be and soon. - DW



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