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Alternative Medicine options - reply to Dr. Pierone's question
Sep 3, 2003

Dr. Pierone, thank you very much for answering my question. My cousin is from Santa Ana (city), El Salvador (country) in central america. I believe they have some aid, but I don't know what exactly is offered. My cousin sought help after he found out he was HIV positive. He was put on a list and was asked to come back after 6 months. I know they did some blood work but treatment was never started, and I am not sure why. I am going to El Salvador at the end of this month and hope to find out more specificly what is available. In the meantime, since it seems that things aren't done in a timely fashion there, I was interested in other options that might help his immune system a little. Currently he is taking a multi-vitamin and extra vitamin C. Recently, he stated that he has sores on his skin and that one of his legs goes numb and hurts. I am not sure if his spots are just ulcers or Kaposi's sarcoma but I read that zinc helps with wound repair and immune fxn, and that alpha-lipoic acid or B12 helps with neuropathy. I just don't know if adding these would be best or not.

Dr. Pierone, I don't know how long it might take to get my cousin treatment, if he gets treatment at all. I just want to make him as comfortable as possible with what ever options, if any are available. Once again, thank you for taking the time to answer me.

Response from Dr. Pierone

There are studies that show zinc supplements may help with wound healing and this can be given as part of a multi-vitamin or separately. There are also some people with neuropathy due to B12 deficiency, but usually that would cause numbness in both legs. Alpha-lipoic acid is being studied in diabetic and other types of neuropathy. Any of these supplements are safe when used in moderation.

The skin sores could be almost anything, but infection is high on the list. An antibiotic may be the most beneficial thing if he has a skin infection.

If you can find a way to get some blood tests to determine his immune status (CD4 count) and viral load that would help to determine how urgent his medical condition is. But ultimately, finding a source and ongoing supply of HIV medications will be the critical element in changing his future outcome.



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