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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Realistic Expectations
Jul 9, 2005

I was diagnosed with AIDS (asymptomatic) in May. I haven't been sick, just decided to go get tested. Found out my CD4 was 143 and viral 62,300...the percentage ( whatever that is ) was 15%. I was shocked that my inital viral load was low but my CD4 was so low as well...I have been on Sustiva, Epzicom and Bactrim for a month now and and have not experienced (thank god) any of the side effects listed for either drug. My CD4 has almost doubled and Viral down to 600...I just want to know if its realistic for me to have the same outlook in the aspects of health and life expectancy as a person who is only HIV positive? Is it possible for me to reach higher Cd4 counts and eventually obtain a undetected viral load? Are there any supplements that I should also be taking besides a one a day vitamin? Im already a vegetarian consuming alot of flax, blueberries,broccoli , garlic, and tofu. Are these things beneficial? Please Help...

Response from Dr. Conway

You are on the right track. With this particular regimen (or something very similar to it), it is reasonable to expect a good long-term (7 years or more) response to therapy. The fact that your viral load is almost undetectable at present is a very good sign, and it is quite likely that the next measure will be undetectable and will stay there as long as you take your pills reliably.

I am telling my patients responding to treatment as you seem to be doing that their life expectancy is essentially normal, given that we know the treatment can work for almost a decade now and that those who are responding to it seem to have normal health. I am, for sure, extrapolating from existing data rather than relying on hard facts, but many other experts agree with me.

Good luck with this....

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