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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
           
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Small Bones, Powerful Drugs, What do I expect?
Dec 19, 2003

Hi Brian,

In June of 2003 I was infected with HIV with a viral load of 1.5 MILLION and a CD4 Count of 295.

Since I've started the regemin of efavirenz (Sustiva) and AZT/3TC (Combivir).

In four months my numbers have changed drastically; having a 270 viral load and a CD4 count of 400 (probably undectectable now)

Yes, I love to hear all the great news about the combination that Im on and how effective it is.

But lets get down to what really concerns me... THE SIDE EFFECTS

I continue to hear about all these nasty side effects from muscle loss, fat loss and to bone loss --- As a matter of fact My doctor already started me on Actanol (Once weekly Calcium pill for people with osteoperosis) -- How serious is this?

How fast am I going to wither away? After all, I'm only 22!

I keep hearing that the numbers are good.... but what about the side effects? Can I really expect to live 40+ more years?

Thanks for any advise you may have....

-So much to learn.....

Response from Dr. Boyle

The regimen you're on is very effective and you should do well. Long-term toxicity is always a concern, but to date no nasty surprises have been found. Studies are underway now looking at bone and fat loss in HIV patients, and these should help to guide future treatment need and options. Also, since you started therapy early, it may be possible to discontinue therapy at some point, and studies are planned or underway to assess when it is best to stop therapy in patients who start it shortly after being infected with HIV. As far as how long you can expect to live, if you follow your doctors advice, have a healthy lifestyle, and take your medications religiously, you should plan on having a relatively normal lifespan.



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