Doing well virologically, but would like to improve other areas
Jun 21, 2005
Once again, thank you all for being here. I have no words to tell you how much better I, and many others (it seems) have been made to feel by your sound advice and kind hearts. What a tremendous resource you provide!
I am 49, male, and was infected early Jan 03; had severe SC illness that lasted from late Jan until May. VL baseline was high (=< 100,000) and CD4+ baseline was marginal & dropping (max 350, 250 and dropping at start of trial Sept 04). Response has been great: VL undetectable in 120 days, CD4+ ~600. My triglycerides became high at first, but my specialist has controlled this with diet and Fenofibrate to a point he considers tolerable. Cholesterol is fine. My ARVs are TPV/r, Tenofovir, and Lamivudine.
Some aspects of my current overall condition have persisted from SC illness, such as PN, intestinal unease, diarrhea, and marked lack of energy. Another aspect (besides the elevated TGs) that I associate with the start of treatment has been a significant drop in libido, and total erectile dysfunction. I take Andriol (120 mg. daily) and have also tried Viagra and Levitra in an attempt to deal with this, but I have had a hard time (no pun intended) with the side-effects of the latter. The Andriol helps with the energy to some extent, but not with the lack of desire, and capacity to do anything about it, anyway.
My specialist has suggested that from a TG perspective, I could remain on the TPV/r, which is serving me well virologically. His first suggestion for an alternative is Reyataz, which would seem to diminish the TG problem (which, by the way, definitely arose after starting the TPV/r). I have mentioned Sustiva, and his only concern with that is that I have a history of depression (and it is never far away), and he doesn't want to risk pushing me closer to it.
I think I could manage the depressive risk of a Sustiva-based regimen, better than I am currently coping with the de-energizing effects of a PI-based regimen.
Any thoughts, or suggestions?
Response from Dr. Wohl
It is hard to know which of your meds might be contributing to your fatigue and problems with desire and erections. You need to look closely at all your meds even those not for HIV. For now, I'll assume you aren't taking anything else.
It could be the PI but how do you know for sure? One way would be to switch this to another drug such as ritonavir boosted atazanavir. It is still a PI but I do not think of your symptoms as being class specific. A nice part of this combo is you will probably be able to drop the fenofibrate. It may be worth a try.
Sustiva can also be something to switch to although, as you mention, it has its own side effects. Again, if it does not work, it may be something other than the PI such as the other HIV meds or the burden of having HIV.
You can probably get away with a swap. I'd try the boosted atazanavir first. Then reassess.
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