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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Ototoxicity and hearing loss
Jul 6, 2003

I have been positive for almost 13 years and have enjoyed reasonably good health since HAART. However, I did have problems with Crixivan and d4t but my doctor was afraid to change drugs for a long time since my viral load was kept in check. For the past year I have been taking viramune and combivir and most everything was going fairly well until August last year when I started having a terrible problem with tinnitus and with a progressive loss of hearing. My doctor finally sent me to an audioligsts who sent me to have a hearing test. Not surprisingly the test showed hearing loss. The doctor recommended very expensive (4k-5k per ear) digital hearing aids. I suspected the problem was associated with the drugs I was taking but neither my HIV doctor or the audiologist gave any hope of improvement. Neither even so much as mentioned ototoxicity. I did my own research on the Internet and have found quite a bit of information on this but need your recommendations as to the best drug combinations to take to lessen the toxicity. Thanks for any help. Robert

Response from Dr. Henry

Tinnitus +/- hearing loss if fairly common in the general population. Finding a specific diagnosis and treatment is often a frustrating experience. None of your HIV drugs are associated with tinnitus to even a mild-moderate degree (it is rare). The 3TC component of Combivir can cause a peripheral neuropathy but it would be unusual to cause only hearling loss. Some other drugs are more commonly associated with that problem (such as the antibiotics called aminoglycosides). A 3-6 month switch to different HIV meds could be considered on a trial basis to see if the hearing improves-if not then I would go back to your current meds. I would only consider that since the problem is so severe and it would be otherwise difficult (in the absence of any other explanation) to rule out some contribution of your HIV drugs. There are many options for other HIV drugs that are possible depending on your prior treatment history. I might consider a PI based regimen (such as Kaletra + Viread + Ziagen) on a trial basis for 3-6 months. KH

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