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Stuborn HIV+
Sep 18, 2001

Hi, first time here and hope I don't ask any stupid Question. My husband found out he was HIV+ when I was pregnant 7 months. Luckliy, I was tested negative. He didn't tell me until recently. I was mad for him not telling me before baby was born. Thank god that baby and I are fine. Since I am very new to this issue, I rely on what he tells me most of time and of course I am trying very hard to search as much info as I can. (In fact, he introduced me to this site) However, there is something questionable about what he has told me. 1. Is it OK to 'take a break' from the medication? 2. Is it true that we can proceed 'normal' life even with him carring out his smoking, not eating right, not sleeping well life style? I have tried to convince him to change his life style even before I knew about this but he never listened. Is there any reason to change his life style because of this? (Maybe an expert is more convicing than I am) 3. Is it true that maybe within years, HIV+ can be cured? I am worried but don't want to panic and certainly I don't want to overstress him with my concerns. Therefore, if you could somehow put me at ease or support me with evidence, it'd make our life much easier. Thanks so much.

Response from Dr. Pavia

These are all good questions, and ones that will help others if they read them. 1. In general, it is not ok to take a break from medications. There are some exceptions, but these are complex and areas that we are researching. Sometimes it is necessary to stop all drugs at once to figure out if they are causing specific side effects. There has been research on so called structured treatment interuptions, but right now, they generally are not panning out. There are some patients who have been on therapy for a long time, whose CD4 counts have returned to high levels, who may choose to go off for several months. However, in general your husband should take his medication every day, exactly as directed, unless his doctor and he have a specific reason for stopping.

2. It is very important for people with HIV to take care of themselves. Ideally, the body and the immune system will do a good part of the job of controlling the virus. Taking care of ones self means eating well, excercising, not smoking, not drinking too much, and trying to take care of ones mental health (hard, but important).

3. There are no short term prospects for a cure. All of our current approaches, and those we envision for the future, will involve a combination of antiviral drugs to control the virus, and strategies to help the immune system control the virus. Over time, the role of immune therapies may increase and the role of antivirals decrease. However, there is an old slogan "Be here for the cure" One day, probably quite a ways in the future, we might have a true cure. However, we have the means (and you have the means) of staying pretty healthy without a cure, and being here for the cure.

It sounds like your husband is in a lot of denial still. Good luck to both of you.

ATP



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