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Refusal of treatment
Feb 24, 2006

My brother has just recently found out that he has AIDS. He didn't even know he had HIV until he went to donate blood. He has now decided, without talking to his doctor, that he doesn't want treatment or any medication. I stand by his decision - he had always been strong willed and decisive. What will happen to him if he doesn't take medication? How long will it take before his body gives up? My brother doesn't seem to care but I would like to know, just so I'm prepared. Is there anyplace where he could get support or answers? He says he's seen what the drugs have done to some of his HIV+ friends and he doesn't want that happening to him.

Response from Dr. Henry

There is a wide range of outcomes in AIDS patients depending on the circumstances. AIDS patients can develop any of 20 different infections or tumors that are life threatening and can cause terrible misery and suffering. Many patients will develop more than one of those complications, which can make them even more miserable. Treatment can prevent most of those complications and prevent the suffering. Even if he doesn't want direct HIV treatment, he should be under the help of a sympathetic, skilled physician, who can provide spiritual support and symptomatic treatment that will minimize suffering. KH



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