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Relative extremely sick with AIDS

Aug 15, 2006

Hi, my cousin is 31, gay, and has AIDS. Our family including myself just became aware of all this a few months ago. I am extremely supportive of him and would do anything for him, but he is very sick. I am assuming that he found out that he had HIV a few years ago, but he never got treated for some reason. I don't know if he was in denial or what not. About 5 months ago he became very ill. He contracted spinal meningitis. He was hospitalized and for a month he was in a coma. The doctors started giving him the treatments for HIV that he should of started long ago. Since then, he has had a cancerous tumor on his brain, pneumonia and some sort of blood infection. He is currently in a nursing home. He is on IV's and eating very minimal. He is sometimes coherent and then sometimes not. Is there any way you can tell me what we as a family should expect next?? Any help will be appreciated.

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post.

I'm so very sorry to hear about your family member.

It's difficult to be precise about prognosis, especially via the limited amount of information that we can get over the web. From what you've described, he has started on the most important part of his treatments, that for HIV. Typically, this indicates that his most severe complications (meningitis, pneumonia) have stablized, if not resolved; his brain tumor is more difficult and often requires chemo- and radiation therapy.

His prognosis must remain very guarded, because of the cancer and recent infectious complications; but do understand that I've seen many patients as sick, or even sicker than your cousin who have gone on to make very good recoveries. Indeed, because of antiretroviral treatments, even the most ill patients have a realistic shot at recovery. One patient who comes to mind was in a coma for several weeks and essentialy given no "hope", who's now back to work full time, has a healthy and happy life expectancy.

So, there's always reason for very real hope. Here's hoping for your cousin's improving health. BY

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