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I got pneumonia and I'm not on meds yet.
Jul 21, 2011

I went to a doctor with a bad cough, congestion, lung pain and I just found out I am HIV positive and I got pneumonia. I don't know yet what my cd4 levels are. What can my doctor do to help me survive this infection and get my cd4 levels up as soon as possible? I'm scared I waited too long to get diagnosed and my cd4 levels might not rise fast enough to save my life from this bout of pneumonia. I feel like I don't even have time to think about which aids regimen to start out with. I feel like I need immediate treatment for the pneumonia and start some kind of aids medication regimen and see a physician who specializes in treating aids patients. what advice would you tell me?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for your post.

Sorry to hear about your situation; without knowing your CD4 counts or type (cause) of your pneumonia, it's difficult for me to offer precise information. The essential thing right now is to identify the cause of your pneumonia and start appropriate treatment.

Nevertheless, it's quite possible that your doctor will recommend starting on HIV medications in the near future. If you happen to have one of the AIDS-defining pneumonias (like Pnuemocystis) or a CD4 count that's below 500, current guidelines recommend starting treatment. Contemporary HIV medication regimens are very highly effective in suppressing virus and restoring immune health. Combined with good adherence and monitoring for safety and toxicity, regimens work well in the vast majority of persons.

As to which medications to start, we usually follow the advice of the US Department of Health and Human Services Guidelines. You are encouraged to also surf our Forum on First-line Therapies for a sense for the kinds of questions (and answers) that people in the community have about starting on treatment.

Lastly, we've long known that people living with HIV are best cared by healthcare providers who have experience taking care of HIV/AIDS (you wouldn't want your psychiatrist doing open heart surgery would you?) It's a good idea to ask your doctor if she or he has experience in HIV care, gets continuing medical education in the topic or is a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

Hope that helps. Stay in touch, and be well, BY



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