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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Long Term Side Effects?
May 19, 2003


I am HIV positive (diagnosed April 10th 2002). I have been on meds since due to the fact that my cd4 count was extremely low, and viral load too high. I was taking Bactrim, Combivir and Sustiva. I dropped the bactrim with my doctors permission once I was out of the "High risk for PCP" stage. It has been my understanding that the side effects of Sustiva last only for a few months (in most cases), however, I can't seem to shake the feeling of panic, confusion, mood swings. I sometimes physically get the shakes, so to speak, and my left eye has been twitching eradically. I noticed the twitch start about 3 months ago, and continues to get worse to the point that other people notice it. Are these all side affect, and will I just have to deal with them, or can I do something to help relieve them. I deal with numbers at work and often have dyslexic moments which can become dangerous to my work. I know this is a lot to answer, but any help would be most appreciated!

Thank You!

Response from Dr. Henry

My own experience and recent studies have shown that a significant minority of persons can have persistent or new central nervous system side effects due to Sustiva even after months of therapy. A trial of switching to nevirapine or abacavir (or another 3rd drug)for several months may be worthwhile on a trial basis if you have never failed treatment in the past. I would discuss your concerns and interest in a possible switch with your HIV specialist. KH

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