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Positive Attitude
Jun 17, 2003

Hello Dr Young, I'm a 35 year old male who was diagnosed HIV 2 months ago. 1st blood test CD4 560 VL 65,000. 2nd blood test CD4 485 VL 16,000. I suspect I contracted the virus 18-24 months ago. I smoke 20-30 cigarettes a day (trying to cut down) drink 2-3 times a week, during my 35 years I have very rarely been ill (minor colds etc) I am very slightly overweight (7-10Ibs) take moderate exercise, eat a very well balanced diet including fish fruit and lots of vegetables, and continue to work hard at my chosen career. A question I'm sure you will not be able to answer but am asking out of desperation, my doctor tells me that I will not need medication for several years, is he correct, how does he know? Also, with medication could I live a normal long healthy life? Could I do anything to improve my immune system vitamins etc? And can a positive attitude help? Thanks in advance

Response from Dr. Young

Sorry to hear of your situation.

I do agree with your doctor about your prognosis-- yes, it is likely that you won't require medications for some time. Many large studies allow us to make predictions of the rate of CD4 cell decline and the risk of HIV-related complications. Analysis of these studies strongly suggest that waiting to start therapy for most persons (until CD4 cells decline to about 350) is reasonable, provided that the person is asymptomatic and gets routine follow up.

Frankly, the best thing that one can do to ensure health during this early phase is to get medical monitoring and follow up-- get the recommended vaccinations (hepatitis, pneumococcal vaccinations); avoidance of tobacco and other recreational drugs (at least excesses); getting optimal diet and exercise are all very reasonable and recommended. In other words, doing all the things that we recommend for non-HIV infected adults, to prevent premature disease or illness.

A positive attitude can't hurt, will probably improve your quality of life, although I can't say in any scientific way that your immunological- or HIV-related prognosis will be altered.

Good luck. BY



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