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stopping medicine
Mar 15, 2009

Can one stop taking ARV(stocrin and combivir)one day in life?or have to drink these till death?

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thank you for your post.

HIV infects the CD4 cells, which play an important role in keeping the immune system in proper balance and functioning normally. Some of the CD4 cells have to stay in your body for many years in order to protect you against infections that you may have been exposed to as a child or throughout your life. These cells are called Memory CD4 cells. They remember old infections and vaccinations that the body has reacted to and can be ready to respond if you come in contact with them again. If we didn't have these long-lived cells we could get infections like chicken pox over and over again. HIV can infect these Memory CD4 cells and stay sleeping inside them for as long as they live. HIV inserts copies of its genes into the chromosomes of these CD4 cells. So you will have to keep on your HIV meds as long as these memory cells stay around, which for most people will be the rest of their lives. That way HIV won't have a chance to escape from them and infect new cells. Whether or not your combination will always be combivir and stocrin will depend on whether they continue to be safe and have no side effects in you. As newer drugs come out, you can discuss with your doctor or health care provider if anything new is better than your current treatment. But you should always stay on something to keep the virus suppressed (at least until we develop a treatment that can get at the remaining virus inside those Memory cells).

Good luck,

Joe



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