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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
           
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Risk vs Benefit
Jan 26, 2003

Hi, Dr.Boyle or Henry: I accidentally stuck a needle that in my finger when I was preparing an HIV-1 based-vector in my lab. The needle was contaminated with the vector preparation. In theory, the vecotr is defective in replication but with a remote possibility of generating so called replication competent lentivirus (RCL) that is similar to HIV but with a different envelope protein. The needle stick was very shallow. Nevertheless when I squized my finger, I did get a bit of blood out therefore constituting an exposure. Taking no chances, I have been on the triple combination treatment (retrovir,epivir and crixivan) for three days. However, these drugs made me very uncomfortable (sometimes even sick). Besides, I worry about the possible long term damages to my body from these three drugs. I am struggling with the dilemma of "risk vs benefit". Please comment on my situation for my reference when I make my own decisions. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Henry

The risk for serious side effects for a short course (prophylaxis)is quite low (though many if not most will have GI and other side effects that will resolve after the 4 weeks or so of therapy is over). It seems reasonable to me to try and get through the usual 4 week course of prophylactic therapy. If side effects are unbearable then the drugs could be switched around. KH



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