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HIV+ status - almost meaningless?
Aug 22, 2011

My partner of 8 years yesterday tested HIV+ with CD4 levels at 230 and %cd4 at 12 and I tested HIV-. He starts meds tomorrow. I've spent the better part of the past 24 hours tearing through everything and what i'm finding everyone is so upbeat and encouraging. Other than the added expense of meds, adherence to a healthier lifestyle and possible limitations on some sexual activities, being HIV+ sounds positively preferable today over just about any chronic problem such as diabetes, cancer, even severe depression. Am I missing something? Or is this while thing not going to be much of a bother?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi.

HIV preferable to other chronic problems? Actually I do think you're missing quite a lot! Your partner has AIDS (CD4% of 12% qualifies him for an AIDS diagnosis). He is currently at a significantly increased risk for certain opportunistic infections. In addition to antiretroviral therapy he will need prophylaxis against pneumocystis carinii pneumonia until his counts improve. Antiretroviral medications have certainly gotten better since the dark lo' days of the epidemic. However, they are potent and have a long list of potential side effects and toxicities. We also don't know what the long-term effects of these drugs will be, as they've only been in widespread use for a relatively short period of time.

I agree the news is upbeat and encouraging, but that's mainly because prior to recent advances the news was downright horrible. Life with HIV/AIDS has definitely improved, but having AIDS is much more than "just a bother." Continue to explore the information on this site and other reputable HIV information sites. Also, check out my blog post entitled "A Chronic, Not Always So Manageable, Condition."

You and your partner should also check out the information in the chapter in the archives devoted to magnetic couples. There you will find a number of harm reduction strategies you may wish to consider implementing.

You also will need HIV tests at the three- and six-month marks from the date of your last exposure (unprotected sex) to determine definitively that you have dodged the HIV bullet.

Good luck to you both!

Dr. Bob



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