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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
           
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medicines good or bad
Sep 15, 2003

If the medicines for hiv keep you alive for say 10 to 15 years average, With a multitude of side effects why take them. Here is my analogy. I get hiv today and take no meds i will live about 10 years give or take a few. with no debilitating side effects and additional damage to the rest of my body. Alternative take meds and damage my colon, heart, other organs with these poisons. and gain if any a few years. It seems that the whole hiv aids continum has to be understood and weighed out. The hiv business has to change and quit making a mockery of the people it serves. There should be a show on tv called hiv +. Have guest on talk in open debate all the issues surrounding hiv in america today.

Response from Dr. Boyle

A debate of HIV treatmenta great idea. While there isn't a TV show yet, it still occurs every day on the internet, in doctors offices and at meetings of patients, doctors and others interested in HIV-related issues. The tone of your question is a bit argumentative, like you are expecting me to say you are crazy, but actually I think we are pretty much in agreement. Using your example, if you're infected today (and you shouldn't be because you are using safer sex/needles!) you can expect that your T cells will slowly decline and that at some point you will need therapy. People progress at different rates and that time may be as short as months (uncommonly) to years (more common) to longer than a decade (about 10-15% of patients). What the therapies will be available and what advances will have occurred in HIV treatment between now and the time therapy is required is not fully known, but clearly there will be more treatments and strategies available at that point. But, it is likely that if that therapy is started at an appropriate time it will effectively put HIV into remission, significantly prolong your life and have limited toxicity (especially with some of the regimens we use now). If on the other hand you elect never to start therapy (a bad idea, but one you can make), it is likely that HIV will progress to AIDS, that the virus will continue to cause significant damage to your body and that you will die from AIDS. Bottom line: The best way to beat HIV is to stay off antiretrovirals until it is appropriate to start them (a decision you and your doctor will decide), then take them religiously and watch carefully for any evidence of toxicity.



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