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HIV never progressing???
Feb 9, 2005

I don't know if I'm correct when I say this but is it true that some patients living with HIV never progress? I thought I remember myself reading something online that indicated that some people with HIV never have a viral load. Undetectable levels. I'm hoping that your response is "yes" because if so I hope that I'm that person. I've been living with HIV for 8 months now and my viral started out very high ( 750,000) and the CD4 was 670. The second results were the same viral load and the CD4 was at 450. The third test to me was amazing. The CD4 was in the 500's and the Viral load was 50,000. That was just two months later. In my opinion that is a drastic drop in levels. The last test I had was the viral load 23,000 and the CD4 just over 600. I think those are great numbers and so far I'm seeing a trend. It keeps getting lower and lower and the CD4 keeps going up. I should be going to the doctor in the next few weeks so i gusse that will better answer my question. Could I be one of these elite people that HIV never progresses. PLEASE tell me this is possible. I have a very strong mind and I have told myself from day one HIV is not getting the best of me and my life. I keep telling myself through my stong willl to eliminate this virus from my body along with regualr excersies and a healthy diet I wil concor it all. You know they say you can do anything as long as you put your mind too it. I wonder how true that really is. I have faith in that statment and think it could be very helpful to alot of people. I don't let this get me down and I dont sob over it. I haven't shed or wasted one tear on HIV. I guess I treat it as if it's an enemy that I'm fighting and I wont give up until it's all gone. I alos dont' think that medication is the best way for me to go right now either. My only concern is that I have swollen lymphnodes. Is that bad? Will that weaken my immune system? Will that cuase other health issues down the road. I hope you post what I wrote in this forum. Maybe my mind set will help others become stonger mentally. Thanks for your help and I find this forum very helpful.

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post.

To be sure, there are persons with HIV infection who have very little or "no" disease progression. These persons are quite rare, less than 1% of the population. A usual predictor of having slower than average CD4 cell decline and disease progression is having a very low viral load. I do see a number of these patients in my clinical practice; they typically have HIV viral loads that are less than 1000 (off any HIV treatment). I don't view these individuals as "elite", but rather, lucky. But even among persons with very low viral loads, we do see CD4 cell decline, so "no" disease progression may be overstating things; it's more that these persons have a very slow rate of progression, compared with those with higher viral loads.

Now, are you one of these lucky individuals? I'm afraid that I can't say that, based on your viral load of 23,000. Eight months after diagnosis, if your viral load is in the tens of thousands, you fall into a more average level of virus, and as such I'd predict an average rate of CD4 cell decline.

This is not to say that your life expectations or clinical prognosis is bad-- having a good attitude and fighting for your health will certainly help, but in the end, it will come down to getting experienced, ongoing healthcare from a HIV specialist, getting routine, scheduled laboratory and clinical monitoring of your health. If all of this comes together, I expect that your prognosis for long-term quality of life should be excellent.

Thanks for posting. BY



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