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If you can I would apprciate your answer to this?
Oct 1, 2001

My sister was recently infected via a needle stick. She is a nurse and I am very concerned for her. If you could please answer this question honestly I would greatly apprciate it. She is a kind wonderful woman with a daughter and husband and family who love her very very much. What I know about HIV is not a lot to be honest. I have read a lot of what you have here on this website and have learned a great deal more than I did before. My question is my sister is only 39 years old and I would like to know if or when she needs to take medication would she be able to live out her normanl life. I mean both our parents are in there 70's now what are the chances she could live to her 70's even with this virus? I have heard terrible stories about how people die from this virus and I dont want my sister to be one of them so please please help me out here. God bless.

Response from Dr. Young

Sorry to hear about your sister. It pains me to hear about health care professionals who get occupational exposure in the course of caring for persons with HIV.

If your sister has acute HIV infection, she would very likely benefit from going on treatment very soon. There are several reasons for this, including the preservation of HIV-specific immune responses and the possibility of prevention of drug resistance (these topics are discussed in other pages of TheBody). If she has been infected over 6 months, then we take a different approach- we typically wait to initiate therapy until CD4 cell counts are lower- between 350 and 500 cells in our office. Close and frequent monitoring of viral load and CD4 counts are necessary in order to best assess disease status.

At age 39 with recent infection, even without treatment (ever), we could expect that she would live to age 50 (based on average survival of about 10 years). Treatments have dramatically reduced the death rate, and improved quality of life. I typically quote survival in the multiple decade range. With a little bit of luck, well-timed medications and good adherence, I see no reason why your sister shouldn't live to see her 70'th birthday. Hope this is helpful. BY

combivir or trivizir?

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