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First Regimen/Severe Itching

Feb 15, 2005

Hello Dr. Young. I've known of my HIV status for a year and a half now...and was asymptomatic for the first year. After a recent biopsy revealed the beginnings of KS I began HAART with a once a day regimen of Truvada, Reyataz (300mg), and Norvir (100mg). I'm extremely happy with the affect of treatment on my labs. Within 8 weeks my VL has declined over 99.5% (below 200), CD4 up by 400, and a rise of 5 percentage points. I've also felt happy that side effects have mostly appeared to be minimal and fleeting. However, recently I have experienced some ithing on my arms, legs, abdomen and back that have grown in intensity...sometimes disturbing my sleep. I've also noticed dry feeling skin on the itchy regions. I've tried using moisturizing lotion which sometimes appears to help, but other times not. The itching has become so intense at times that I have scratched raw the surface on some of the little red bumps that sometimes appear. Is this a side effect of the meds? If so, will it subside? I'm thrilled with the results of my recent labs, but wonder how I will endure this severy itchiness if it continues. Do you have any advice for me? I appreciate your time, Dr. Young. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Young

Thank you for your post and question.

It definitely sounds like you've had a great response to your first-line treatment. While many HIV medications can cause rash, what you describe sounds more like a case of bad dry skin (xerodermia). I'd be sure to have your doctor take a look at your skin to confirm this diagnosis (or others).

Dry skin can be a problem for persons with HIV, especially common here in the dry winters of Colorado. While lotions can be of help in mild cases, we often resort to using topical corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone); in our clinic, we recommend using a more industrial-strength emolient, like petroleum jelly- for difficult cases. We use this strategy with very good results in many cases (and it's a lot cheaper than the commercial lotions).

Good luck, let us know how things turn out. BY

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