Apr 30, 2009
Hello Dr. Bob. I am asking this question in hopes that you will respond and people will read it.
What additional precautions (besides the normal ones) can an HIV positive person take in regards to this swine flu that is one step away from becoming a pandemic?
Thanks, Dr. Bob, and God bless.
Response from Dr. Frascino
No "additional precautions" are being recommended for HIVers at this time. However this situation is serious and very fluid. Things could and probably will evolve rapidly. For now we recommend avoiding people who are coughing or sick. Frequent hand washing will reduce your risk of contracting the flu. The virus can spread in droplets when infected folks cough, sneeze or even talk. Wearing masks is a popular reaction to respiratory outbreaks in certain parts of the world. I'm presently onboard a flight winging my way across country at 38,000 feet and I counted 18 people wearing masks as they boarded this flight! At this point the CDC (U.S. Government) is not recommending masks, unless you are caring for someone with flu or are working in a healthcare center. The CDC's Web site will keep you updated on the need for masks or respirators. If you think you have the flu, call your doctor. The common symptoms include fever (particularly over 102), lethargy, decreased appetite, cough, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and pains. Swine flu is treatable with the antiviral drugs Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (Zanamavir).
At this point avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel to Mexico and frequent hand washing are your best defenses against contracting the virus. Don't touch your mouth or nose with unwashed hands. Flu virus, unlike HIV, can live for several hours on surfaces; like a doorknob just touched by someone with the flu who sneezed into his hand. So for now stick with common sense precautions and we'll keep you informed if anything changes on this potential pandemic.
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