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Don't Know Who Else to Ask
Feb 16, 2007

Hey Dr. Bob, you are awesome. I follow this forum quite a bit - a former worried well - and I learn something new every day. You are an exceptional man, and your work with the HIV community and beyond is inspirational. I am so sorry about your brother, but I know his legacy will continue through your own work. My question: a friend of mine is HIV+, diagnosed about 16 months ago. Does HIV stimulate the immune system enough that it is difficult to catch some of the more common illnesses, like a cold, flu, gastro bugs, etc.? Or is the person more susceptible to those type of common illnesses? My bud has been sick non-stop with sinus infections, stomach flu...etc. He has not seen a specialist, just his primary doctor. Again, thanks for all you give. I may not should have asked you this question, but none of the other forums looked right, and anyway I wanted to write and thank you...I am a FAN!

Wolf

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Wolf,

Thanks for your kind comments.

The most important piece of advice I can provide your buddy is that he needs to get hooked up with an HIV/AIDS specialist. He wouldn't let his primary care doctor take out his appendix or prescribe cancer chemotherapy, would he? Similarly, the vast majority of primary care physicians cannot be expected to be HIV/AIDS specialist any more than they can be expected to be surgeons or oncologists! That your buddy "has been sick nonstop" since his diagnosis 16 months ago should be evidence enough that things aren't going as well as one would hope. So do your buddy a favor and encourage him to see an HIV specialist, OK?

Regarding your specific questions, HIV attacks and eventually destroys CD4 cells, a vital component of the immune system. Over time this progressive destruction leaves one's immune defense mechanisms deficient and thus HIVers become more susceptible to infections and malignancies. Hence the name "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."

"Does HIV stimulate the immune system enough that it is more difficult to catch some of the more common illnesses like cold, flu, gastro bugs, etc.?" No. In fact, over time, it's just the opposite.

Good luck to you and your buddy.

Dr. Bob



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