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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Nov 17, 2004

I have been switched to Combivir and Sustiva. I have taken Combivir in the past and had no problems but I am a little worried about Sustiva. I have heard about problems but not sure what to expect. My viral load went up to about 10K but have CD4 around 750. I am diabetic as well. My sugars have been good and the last A1C was 7.0. I'm worried about the side effects from the Sustiva. Could you give me some idea as to what I should expect?

Response from Dr. Conway

There are 3 kinds of things to watch out for.

First, liver toxicity. This can occur is 3-5% cases (about half as frequent as with Viramune) and can be detected quite easily by just monitoring your blood tests in the first few months of therapy.

Second, a skin rash. Some kind of minor rash can develop in 20-25% of cases, in the firsr few weeks of therapy. However, this is only significant in 1-2% cases, and you will be able to see it. if it does happen and seems to be progressing, you can just stop the drug and it will get better.

Third, neuropsychiatric side effects, such as anxiety, sleeplessness, bad dreams. This can occur, to some extent, about half the time. However, it is only severe in 3-4% cases, or `10-15% of cases if you have a history of problems such as depression or severe anxiety. All you need to do here is discuss it with your health care provider. Sometimes all you need to do is take your pills at night to overcome the problem, or take some type of medication to counter the side effect for a few weeks. In a small minority (as I say, <5%) of cases, you may need to go off Sustiva to deal with the problem.

To Dr Brian again
Adding Virocept to an ongoing PEP treatment Y/N?

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