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Son just diagnosed - looking for answers
Aug 19, 2003

Hi: My son has just been diagnosed with HIV. He is 20 years old and in good health. He was very responsible for getting tested and has only recently been infected. We have met with a great infectious disease Dr. that has been very optomistic about his future and his treatment. The doctor has assured us this is a chronic illness and one that my son can live a healthy life with for decades to come. I want to believe this....he is healthy but he is on meds. He is on meds b/c his viral load was 300,000 when he was tested, the vial for his CD4 count was compromised so they took it again before he started meds. CD4 came back excellent. Dr. says he will only be on meds for 6 months. I have been reading alot and there are many different theories about starting meds. We hope to have him on them for only 6months and then take him off for several years. By doing this is there evidence there will be new meds out that may be even more helpful with this illness? Is it considered a chronic manageable illness? or is it only manageable to those that are slow progressors and how do you know if you are? Of course I hope and pray that he is a slow progressor. I read your forums daily, some good some bad, some happy some sad, my heart goes out to all that are infected, but hope those out there that are depressed and anxious and look at this as a chronic illness will still live and love as they have in the past.......

Response from Dr. Young

Sorry to hear about your son.

From what I can gather from your post, it seems as if he was identified as HIV positive during the acute, or initial infection stage. There is a bit of controversy about the best strategy for treating such persons, but general agreement that starting therapy is recommended, in order to potentially preserve immune function and health.

Persons with HIV, wheter fast- or slow-progressors can well be managed medically and there is accumulating evidence that suggests that persons who initiate therapy in the weeks after initial infection are more likely to progress slowly. Either way, the hope of early initial treatment is not to continue therapy forever, but to preserve immune function by a short-term treatment. How long to treat is the essential question-- some say six months others say, "I'm not sure, so treat until we know for sure". I tend to be in this later camp.

The best thing for your son, as usual is to be as adherent as humanly possible with his current medications and to stay in close contact with his doctor about new information on treatment and managment of his medications.

Good luck. BY



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