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Question about a comment you made...
May 26, 2011

With someone elses question you had mentioned that you believed evidence would emerge that starting meds earlier would be better at preserving the immune system. But I have also read that the drugs are so toxic that being on them for too long isn't good either and that it's better to just start taking them at the recommended times or follwoing the typical guideline. I am a guy, 36, newly infected and really am struggling with understanding this subject. I watched a video clip by a doctor who said it often isn't the disease that ends someones life but the meds due to diarreah and toxicity. Please shed some more light on this subject or and where I can get some reading material on it. Thank you very much Vergel.

Response from Mr. Vergel

The older drugs (Zerit, AZT, Crixivan, old formulation of Kaletra, old formulation of Saquinavir, etc) were a lot more problematic than the newer ones (Isentress, Atripla, Reyataz, Selzentry, Intelence, new formulation of Kaletra and Saquinavir). Diarrhea, neuropathy and severe lipodystrophy are not as common, although they still happen.

The new DHHS guidelines in the United States recommend treatment for anyone with 500 CD4 cells or less (they used to recommend treatment for those with 350 CD4 cells or less 3 years ago). There is enough evidence that starting at this level of CD4 cells, immune function can be better preserved. Also, it has been shown that patients on treatment become a lot less infectious to others. For those with hepatitis B and HIV, it is recommended that you start treatment at any CD4 cell level since one of the treatments for HIV (Truvada) also treats Hepatitis B.

Personally, if I found out I was HIV + today, I would start treatment right away. But that is my own personal opinion based on all the data I have seen and some emerging data that has not been included in the treatment guidelines.

It is a personal decision and you have to be ready for it. If you are not and your CD4 cells are still up, I suggest you keep researching until you feel you can adhere to the daily medications that we have to take for life until we find cure for HIV, which I am starting to believe more and more than it may come in our lifetime.

Nelson



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