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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Does sudden Spike = Resistance
Mar 10, 2005

I was started on Combivir and sustivia after being diagnosed one year ago. My Viral load was 80,000, and my CD4 was 49. After the first 6 months of therapy I was undetectable with CD4 up to 88. This month my viral load measured 1100, and my T cells are only 78. I am worried that my I may be resistant to one of the meds, however no resistance test was ordered. I was hoping that my immune system would reconstitute more rapidly. I have never missed a single dose of medication, I eat good foods, and I am drug free. Should I be worried?

Response from Dr. Henry

A viral load increase to > 1000 is of some concern (it is more thana blip). The first thing that needs to be done is repeat the HIV level and if still well over 50 copies/ml then a resistance test and a discussion with your HIV specialist is recommended. Combivir + Sustiva has a relatively low barrier to resistance in the setting of viremia so resistance to 3TC and efavirenz is of concern. Hopefully your next test will find a low viral load again. T cell recovery can be very slow in some cases. Often a switch to a regimen with less marrow toxicity might be considered (I.e. switch from AZT to abacavir) to see if that helps the T-cell recovery. KH

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