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Drug abuse and HIV/AIDS

Dec 29, 2004

Thank you so much for your help in this forum. I tested negative for HIV in August and October 2000. I was however, hospitalized in October 2003 with pneumosistis pneumonia with an AIDS diagnosis, cd4 of 25 and a viral load of over 1,000,000. Assuming I was infected around October 2000 all of the reasearch I've done shows that this was a very quick progression of the disease, three years from infection to AIDS and near death. During that time period I abused drugs very heavily, cocaine and ecstacy daily. I'm told by my HIV specialist that the extreme drug abuse is likely what caused the disease to progress so quickly. Do you believe this could be true or is such a quick progression more common than I know? I no longer use any drugs and seem to be making a remarkable recovery with Sustiva and Combivir, viral load undetectable since 12/01/03 and cd4 at 319 on last test. Assuming that the drug abuse was a factor in the quick progression to AIDS and without sounding too preachy please let this serve as a warning to the perils of drug abuse in the setting of HIV/AIDS.

Response from Dr. Frascino


First off, congratulations on your remarkable recovery viral load over a million plummeting to undetectable and CD4s skyrocketing from 25 to over 319! BRAVO! Regarding substance abuse and HIV progression, yes, certain illegal substances had indeed been shown to accelerate HIV replication, which can in turn lead to more rapid immunologic deterioration. You are not being "preachy." You are being honest. After all, you've been there!

Stay well. Stay focused on your recovery! Let's make 2005 a stellar year, OK?

Dr. Bob

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