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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Facial Wasting and Neuropathy
Feb 1, 2006

Dear Drs:

I have two questions:

1) I was diagnosed in 2003 and have been taking Combivir and Viramune for 3 years. I heard that the AZT in Combivir can cause facial wasting long=term. Is this something I should consider changing? I don't want to lose my face. I am currently undetectable and a CD4 of 788.

2) For the past few months I have been getting tingling sensations in both hands. Is this beginning neuropathy? I also weight train at a local gym so I wasn't sure if it was related to that. Thanks and I await your responses.

Response from Dr. Henry

Switching off the Combivir (AZT + 3TC) to something like Epzicom (3TC + abacavir) or Truvada (FTC + tenofovor) may modestly decrease your chances to loss facial fat but hard long term data on that is lacking. Not everyone taking Combivir will lose facial fat due to the AZT but again the long term (say 5-10 year) data on that is still scant since that was not an much of an issue many years ago so baseline evaluation were not done in many studies/cohorts. The tingling in your hands is not likely due to HIV or drug related neuropathy due to the location (generally those problems start in toes/feet). KH

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