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Anxious and Confused about treatment
Jul 29, 2013

I am a 40 yr. old woman and I was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 when I was hospitalized with meningitis. My CD4 at that time was around 450 so I decided not to start meds at that time. I have seen my doctor every 3 months since then; I eat healthy and juice daily, dont drink or use drugs. A couple of years ago my CD4 dropped to 300 or so but I was still not ready for meds. Fast forward to today where my CD4 is 56, %CD4 is 8% and VL is 224,000. My cholesterol is normal besides low HDL, my globulin is high at 4.3 g/dL, white blood cells low at 2.6 thousand/uL. Because of my lab work my doctor is insisting that I start meds ASAP or you will die but my issue with this is that I do not have any illnesses associated with an HIV diagnosis, let alone AIDS. According to textbook with these labs numbers I should have all kinds of health problems but I dont. I rarely even get a cold. I had ovarian cancer in 2011 and had a total hysterectomy and have had severe night sweats since that time. Other than that and the lack of sleep from this recent anxiety I feel good. Knowing how toxic HAART drugs are and knowing how people get ill when they start their meds I am having a hard time deciding whether I should start treatment or not. My fear is that if I dont take meds and wait too long I will get so ill that I will cause irreversible damage to myself or that I will die from my bad decision to not start treatment. Even with this fear I dont want anything to do with treatment. Have you experienced or know of any other patients that have had CD4 this low without any illness? Please shed some light!! I am going crazy

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

Sorry to learn about your recent diagnosis. While it is a very good thing that you feel good and have not (yet) had any AIDS-related complications, you have very advanced immune suppression, and great risk of serious, life threatening complications and malignancies.

I do have lots of medical experiences with people like you. Without treatment, many individuals get very ill and some die. HIV treatments in the past were not optimal, with many side effects and toxicities. Today's medications are a world different. When adhered to, very effective, and unlikely to cause serious side effects. Indeed, have been shown to reduce HIV-related death and transmission.

With HIV medications, your immune health (and risks of complications) improves- and, if properly selected and monitored, without significant side effects or toxicity.

I'd encourage you to scan our pages and patient blogs to get a broader sense of what treatment means to others.

Please feel free to write back, BY

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