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death by meds???

Feb 16, 2006

Everyone is saying it is not a death sentnce , Excuse me I have a friend that just died who was on meds for 5 years . think the meds killed her because she died of a heat attack. so is it the drugs that kill or the disease i'm confused? people still die will the doctors be honest and say you can die in five years????

Response from Dr. Wohl

When I discuss prognosis with patients I make it clear that it is folly to try to predict how long anyone will live. I can provide statistics to help explain what generally happens after the diagnosis of HIV and what generally can be expected of HIV medications. However, these are data generated from the observations of large groups of people. When it comes to what can and will happen to any one individual, to you or to your friend - all bets are off.

The challenge is to be fair to the odds of doing well (or not) and not eliminating hope (as usually there is at least some). The known risks of any therapy have to be explained and balanced with the potential benefits. Can you take HIV meds and get a fatal reaction? Yes, but this is really rare. Does it seem likely that HIV therapy contributes to cardiovascular disease? Yes, but put it in perspective. Study of thousands of HIV+ people show the risk of a heart attack is incredibly low even though increased by combination HIV therapy.

That the meds can hurt and, yes, even kill, does not mean they are evil. The risk for badness without them is well-appreciated by those of us who were around when the meds did not exist or who happen to live in a place where they are unavailable.

Collectively, we are better off with these meds. But we all recognize that is small consolation for those whom the medications fail.


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