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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Side Effects LT Survivor
Nov 4, 2003


I am a long term survivor -- nearly 20 years -- generally experiencing good health. I have been taking meds since my diagnosis. I am currently on the combo: sustiva, ziagen, and videx. I have been taking this combo for many months and early on managed any serious side effects. For the past two weeks, however, I have felt light-headed and actually passed out last week. I am facing an unlimited number of tests -- that may actually not determine anything. The drx. seem focused somewhat on my heart. My questions is this: Is there anything about either this combo, the fact that I have taking it for some time, or that I have been on any number of strong meds, one after the other, for the past 20 years -- that would suggest an area of concern? I have something in the back of my head that long term survivors have experienced similar episodes that turned out to be something treatable or even serious. I can't recall where I read this or even what I should be focused on. I'd like to narrow down the scope of the tests I will put myself through -- or at least have some questions to ask my drx. when I see him again this week. Any ideas? Thanks.

Response from Dr. Henry

Sustiva can be associated with persistent central nervous system effects (including light-headedness and almost passing out). With Ziagen there is a concern about hypersensitivity reaction (not common after the first 8 weeks of continuous use). With Videx there might be some concern about neuropathy or pancreatitis. Middle ear infections/disturbances can sometimes make a person feel dizzy/lightheadedness. A good history and physical by your HIV doc can often point the work-up in a specific direction. Cardiac problems or blockages of arteries to the brain are also worth considering depending on your risk for atherosclerosis. KH

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