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Is this a side effect?

Mar 30, 2003

Please answer asap, I am 45 married and strait (male) I have been on meds for two years since april of 2001 , I am on same meds they are zerit, epivir and sustiva at bed time I am experiencing a bruised sensation type feeling when I touch lightly with a small amount of pressure with finger tips especially around the torso area (sides)or when I scratch and then press lightly with finger tips in area where scratched it feels bruised for up to a minute or so , this somthing related to the meds it's been going on for about six months, thanks for your time ,Jerry

Response from Dr. Cohen

So - the bruised sensation you describe is likely an early description of "neuropathy" -- this term is just Latin for sick nerves, and means any uncomfortable sensation in the nerves. And some on the antivirals will have neuropathy - which might be described as you have - a feeling of sensitivity in the skin. It is unusual to have it start in the torso which I think is what you've described - and so I'd start with a visit to someone who might see what this is - as neuropathy is very very rarely going to start in the chest/torso/back area. When we do see neuropathy - particularly for those who have it while on the medications - it is more likely to start as a sensitivity in the fingertips and/or the toes. And then continue up/in from there. And you only mention the torso. And for 6 months. So I cannot be sure what this is that you describe. If it is neuropathy-- the drug you are taking that is most linked to this is Zerit / d4T / Stavudine. And the easiet treatment is to exchange another med for this one - and since you sound early on in your antiviral combos - there are many options to use at this point. For example you might try Tenofovir next - this pill - also called viread - has no neuropathy and works as well - based on some recent studies. And is easy to use - just one pill, once a day.

There are neurologists who specialize in nerve pain -- if your HIV doctor cannot be sure why your skin is sensitive, a consultation might be of some help here. If that is not an option, a medication change is something that we can and often do safely try - just to see if the meds are involved.

Hope that helps.

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