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Final stages of HIV?

May 19, 2004

My mother is caring for my brother and his children. They say he is in the begining of the end stages. His mood swings are nasty, he can't remember simple converstations, and he has trouble breathing.

What can we expect and what should I tell my mother to ask his nurse and doctor about?

Please they live in a small town area with little to knowledge of AIDS and more people there are turning up with it.

Thanks for information or direction you can help me with.


Response from Dr. Horwath

Your brother's breathing problems suggest that he may be developing an infection in his lungs or airways. This needs medical attention quickly. Respiratory problems like pneumonia can also cause problems like agitation, confusion, moodiness and memory loss.

In advanced AIDS, it is also common to develop HIV-associated dementia. Your brother's symptoms sound consistent with this diagnosis as well. If he does not have pneumonia or some other acute medical problem, then he needs to be seen by a doctor who knows something about managing dementia. Sometimes small doses of medications can help to calm an agitated or emotionally labile person with dementia. Medications that are sometimes helpful in small doses include Risperdal (0.5 mg once or twice/day) or Seroquel (25 to 50 mg at bedtime).

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