my dad is HIV+
Aug 22, 2003
My dad was just told today that he was HIV+. Let me give you his background. He is 48 years old, and has only been with 2 women in his lifetime. My mother was his first, from the age of 17 until he was 24, and his current girlfriend for the past 13 years. He has never done any intervenous drugs. He has about 25 tattoos, that he got from the age of 17-35. Other than that, there isn't any way we can figure how he became HIV+. We have an appointment next week with an HIV clinic. The symptoms he was having on and off for the past 3 months were: diareaha, fever of 102, night sweats, weight loss. He lost about 30-40 lbs during the 3 months. He went into the er when he started feeling very ill, and they did bloodwork, CTscan of his gi tract, and had a full colonoscopy (down the throat and up the rear), and various xrays. They found some lesions in his small intestine, and decided to do the HIV test. The GI dr was the one that told us today that he is HIV+. This was like hitting us with a 2x4. We never expected this given his history. My question is, now what? I know it really doesn't matter how he got it, because we know he has it and that can't be changed, but what is going to happen when we go to the HIV clinic? Will he be retested for accuracy, or do they not make mistakes with this? How do we know if it has progressed into AIDS?
Response from Dr. Pierone
Sorry to hear about your father's illness. First learning about a diagnosis of HIV infection is a traumatic experience for all involved. One of the first tests that he will have done is measurement of the level of HIV in the blood. This viral load test not only serves as a confirmatory test for HIV but will also indicate how much active viral replication is going on. The other test is a CD4 count or T-cell count and this is a gauge of immune function. If the CD4 count is below 200 this is considered AIDS.
Since your father has been quite ill with weight loss, fever, and diarrhea for months it suggests that he may have progressed to AIDS. The nature of the lesions in the small intestine may also answer this question if they were diagnostic of an opportunistic infection.
The take home message is that HIV is very treatable with contemporary medications. Even those that are very ill with opportunistic infections can turn around dramatically with appropriate treatment and do very extremely well for years to come. Best of luck to your father and in the future us on his situation.
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