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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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How long can this combination last?
Apr 24, 2005

Hello. I started treatment on Sustiva, Tenofovir and Lamuvudine one month ago, and have no unpleasant side-effects. After a month I feel I have more energy and generally feel better than I've felt for many months. I'm due to get my first CD4 and VL results since starting the meds next week, but have been told not to expect a miraculous change. I'm generally so not stressed about having HIV that I forget about it most of the time. I don't lead a particularly 'hedonistic' lifestyle, although I enjoy a few beers in the pub a couple of nights a week, and I smoke (which I know I need to stop sooner rather than later). My diet is fairly healthly, with the occasional "blip" (chocolate and crips mainly!) My question is - how long will I be able to stay on this combination of drugs, and is there anything I can do to improve the longevity of this treatment?

Response from Dr. Henry

Good question. For persons who suppress HIV levels to < 50 copies/ml on their first regimen without any resistance and who are very close to 100% adherent---the experience has been very encouraging that their regimen can continue working for many years (perhaps a failure rate no higher than 2-5% /year). These more powerful and effective regimen have only been available for up to 8-9 years so no one can say for sure what the future holds but I am optimistic that patients can do well for decades if they maintain high levels of adherence on effective treatment. Given the expected good long-term prognosis, after initial HIV goals are reached (HIV suppressed and CD4 count increased to a safe level), many patients shift their focus to other health issues (smoking etc) in order to maximize their chances to have a long and healthy life despite their HIV infection. KH

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