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Worried Child
Jan 7, 2014

I have a mother who just found out she has been living with HIV for 4 years and wasn't aware. She started taking arv's at May 2013 her count is 109. I don't know if they not working or not because she's still so thin.. Will they work..???

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thank you for posting.

I'm sorry to learn about your mother. It's good that she's on ARVs (ART) and I'll assume that she lives in a part of the world where CD4 and viral load testing are available.

If this is the case, the best way to know if her medications are working is to look at how her CD4 count has changed (hopefully increased) and by this point, if she has an undetectable viral load or not.

There are many potential reasons why your mother may not be gaining weight--the most concerning is whether she has an opportunistic infection or cancer. With her initial very low CD4 cell count, these are possibilities and these risks should be assessed. After that, I'd be looking at her nutritional status, mental health and possible medication toxicity. Gastrointestinal side effects from medications can sometimes interfere with adequate nutrition and limit weight gain too.

After saying all this, it's important to know that if your mother is engaged in her health care, able to stay adherent to her medications and appointments, her prognosis can be excellent. Your support and assistance in this is an important factor in improving her health and is very welcomed.

Please write back with any additional questions or details.

Be well, BY

Started Epzicom with high viral load >100,000

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