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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Immediate Med Change
Oct 2, 2003

I tested positive just over 90 days ago. I started meds wanting to be aggressive in dropping my viral load. (Viral load in excess of 100k) We did not have a pheno or geno type back from the lab so we started Kaletra. I have been on Kaletra, Tenfovir and 3TC. Now I have the results back that I do not have a drug resistant strain. (No other lab results back as of yet). The suggestion is to change over to Sustiva as it is not a PI and will have less side effects. I am concerned about the reputation of PI's. Will this cause drug resistance down the road to Kaletra? ( I have been taking Kaletra for 7 days with no side effects). Should I be taking Kaletra for a longer period of time? How would you think of changing over, overlap by a day, etc??

Response from Dr. Conway

This is an interesting question. There are many ways to achieve virologic suppression, and the combination that you are taking is certainly one of them. Before I made any changes, I would first see if this is working (i.e. what is your viral load after one month?). Then, you can make a choice. If you are tolerating it, you may not wish to change anything. If not, AND if your viral load is suppressed, you would then be able to make a single drug switch to address the specific side effect, and still maintain suppression. Most commonly, this would be a switch from a PI to an NNRTI, but if you are not tolerating one of the NRTIs, a switch of one of these drugs is also possible.

Now, if you are tolerating the medications, have virologic suppression BUT are still worried about the long-term side effects of PIs, some have made the switch you suggest (i.e. from Kaletra to Sustiva). However, you may develop side effects to the Sustiva (such as neurologic or psychologic symptoms) that you did not have on the Kaletra, and be thus creating a short-term problem where none existed.

So, wait for your first viral load test result, and talk over all the options with your doctor.

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