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Life expectancies and weight loss

Jan 3, 2004

My mother was diagnosed with HIV around 7 or 8 years ago. I'm very worried about her. The deterioration of her health is very evident. My mother is on medications for her condition but I'm still very worried about her health. I have two questions: What is the normal life expectancy for a HIV victim? Are there any ways for the victim to gain their weight back? Please help me. I'm very concerned.

Response from Dr. Pierone

There are many ways to regain weight for people with AIDS-related wasting. The first thing is to see why someone is actually losing weight. The weight loss could be due to a smoldering opportunistic infection like CMV or MAC. If so, this infection must be diagnosed and treated or nonspecific treatments to put on weight are ineffective. Some people loss weight from side effects of HIV medications, others from depression, or even reasons unrelated to HIV. So a thorough evaluation and individualized management plan needs to be put in place.

With regard to prognosis, it depends on many factors and I don't have enough information to give you a straight answer about your mother. The prognosis for someone with CD4 count of 800, viral load of 1000 (off therapy) is quite different from someone with CD4 count of 20, viral load of 400,000, and multi-drug resistant virus. If you have more information about her situation please let me know and perhaps I can offer some other ideas for her. Good luck!

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