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Long flight to visit someone with low CD4 - precautions to protect them from germs?
May 10, 2011

I am soon to visit my brother, who is now home after a 5 month hospital stay, recovering from PCP and two collapsed lungs, among other OIs. My brothers viral load is undetectable (he has been on HAART since December 2010), but his CD4 count is only 24, and he is around 30kg underweight after such an extended hospital stay. I will have a 24 hour-long flight from Australia to get to my brother, and I am concerned about contracting an illness on the plane that could be a threat to him. I have had the flu shot (a month or so ago). Can you please advise any precautions I should take? For example, should I take a day when I arrive to check I dont have any symptoms before heading to his house? Should I take vitamins? If I feel sniffly during the flight, what should I do? Thanks very much for this website, it has been a godsend to me over the past 6 months.

Response from Mr. Vergel

I would not worry too much and go see him as soon as you can. Of course, if you have a cold, make sure you wash your hands and do not sneeze, etc...but we are not back in the 80's when people used to wear protective gear before entering patients' rooms.

He needs your love and support. But be aware that when we get sick and are afraid of people's rejection or reaction, he may be very sensitive and notice any behavior that may indicate that you are afraid to be in his presence. And do not cry when you see how thin he is...it is the worse you can do (I remember my mom doing that when she saw me years ago and how devastating that was for me).

Try to find out what foods he is craving since good nutrition is key for him right now to regain his healthy weight. Also, make sure he is on Bactrim and talk to his doctor about anything else he needs to take. Buy him a pill box and a watch with multiple alarms for him to be reminded when he needs to take his medications. And keep an eye on his mood; depression can be a huge problem when people are confronted with such grieving of their health. If you detect low mood, make sure you let him vent but do not push him to talk if he is not ready. Sometimes the best we can do is to distract people with fun things to do. Rent movies and buy him tasty food!!

His immune system will get better and he will gain his weight back. And he will be happy that you were by his side in such tough moments.

Let us know how it goes..good sister!

Nelson



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