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Acute Infection - Degree of Symptoms
May 9, 2005

Dr. Wohl - Great work, please keep it up. You are a true beacon for all of us.

My question is regarding the initial reaction to HIV (symptoms and their duration) and the long-term effects of this on fighting the virus. I have been unable to find any studies that link how our bodies react when first exposed to the HIV virus and how that may effect us later. For instance, I had a very severe reaction to HIV - sick and fatigued for several months - while my partner had only a minor skin rash, if that.

Could initial exposure help us determine who should start on HAART prior to the typical guidelines? Logically, do you believe there is a link? To me, it seems logical that one with a more severe initial reaction would be less able to fight it without medication.

Thank you for your time. God bless you all.

Response from Dr. Wohl


I do not know of any data to suggest that the severity of one's symptoms during acute HIV infection predicts clinical course although it is an interesting idea.

Part of the problem is that acute HIV infection is often missed so collecting sufficient numbers of patients to study such questions is difficult.

So, left with this as a mind exercise, I can see a vigorous reaction to initial infection as a potentially good sign of an active anti-HIV defense. The acute symptoms are likely due less to the effects of the actual virus itself than the body's response to it.


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