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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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pancreatitis and a treatment interruption
Dec 15, 2002

I am 34 year old male, non-smoker, non-drinker, excellent physical condition, and diagnosed HIV + for 18 months. For a year I was on Viramune, Zerit, and Videx with little problems or side effects. (viral load dropped from over 100,000 to 534 in three weeks) My viral load is now undetectable and T-Cells in the 800s with a 29 ratio. I recently developed a low-grade pancreatitis and went off meds. My doc wanted to take me off zerit and videx but it seems the viramune causes the trouble as well based on the fact that i started that up again and the abdominal problems started again. My thought is that my body needs a break from the meds all together. Doc seems worried about doing a treatment interruption. What is the risk of going off meds for awhile and after a length of time could i resume the same meds?

Response from Dr. Henry

The safety and advisability of stopping treatment is somewhat dependent on how low the CD4 count got (if below 200 then often not a good idea) and whether you ever had an AIDS defining condition. D4t and ddI both contribute to pancreatitis-much more so than nevirapine. I would urge consideration of an alternative nucleosdie regimen (AZT/3TC/abacavir/tenofovir--any two) along with the nevirapine or perhaps efavirenz assuming there is little chance for resistance to have developed. A triple NRTI regimen such as Trizivir is another option with a usually low risk for pancreatitis. If your CD4 count has never been very low (i.e. > 300-350 at the lowest) then you might be a reasonable candidate for a longer treatment interruption with careful monitoring. KH

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