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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Newbie Needs Answers
Apr 5, 2003

I recently started a cocktail of Epivir, Viracept, and Ziagen after being detected early with the virus. My doctors believe with this early treatment, I may be able to stop the meds and may never have to take them again after about 6 months to a year. My question is how soon does neuropathy and lipodystrophy start to emerge? Is this due to the virus, the meds or both? Are they both eventually going to happen at some point in my life? Although my doctors say that with my unique situation of being detected so early (my HIV antibody test came out neg, but a PCR detected the virus) and immediate therapy, my chances of being med free with a year, I still need to accept the possibility that I may be on these meds for the rest of my life. Any answers you can offer would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I only started the therapy in late February of this year, but am experiencing hair loss which I know isn't part of my heriditary make up, could this be an immediate reaction to the meds or was it due to my acute seroconverting which landed me in the hospital for a week?

Response from Dr. Henry

Neuropathy would be uncommon with your particular drug combination (usually takes >> 6 months to develop when it does). Epivir can result in hair loss. There is little published data on your particular regimen though it shouldn't rank too high as far as risk for fat abnormalities. Many factors may contribute to lipodystrophy including age (worse if older), time with HIV (worse the longer), lower CD4 as well as particular drugs (some protease inhibitors cause more fat accumulation while some NRTIs may cause more fat loss). 6 months of treatment usually causes minimal fat problems other that diffuse weight gain (which actually can be a good thing). KH

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