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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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muscle weakness
Dec 26, 2006

By way of a little background, I am a long-time HIVer, having been infected for a little more than 15 years. I am multi-drug resistant and have been on a couple of different studies in the last five years. Most recently I was on the brecanivir study, and now have started the Merck integrase study. My viral load is around 150,000 (not too bad), and my t-cells are at about 23 or 4 percent. Despite the low t-cell count, I have remained very healthy with only occasional bouts of oral thrush and some fatigue (but that could just be life!). However, in the last 4 months or so I have noticed a very steady and fairly quick decline in the strength particularly of my leg muscles. I find it more and more difficult to climb even just one flight of stairs and often have to stop after about 5 or 6 steps to rest my legs (my cardio is fine). And I cannot get up from sitting on the ground without assistance from another or by pushing up with my arms from a chair or table. Is it possible that this muscle weakness is a side effect of one of the many HIV drugs I've taken or the disease itself?

Response from Dr. Henry

Good question. Evaluating the status of your leg muscles and nerves may help sort out (muscle enzymes, neurologic evaluation). Decreased nutrition status, low hormone levels (i.e.testesterone), decreased exercise--all can impact muscle stength. HIV or other infection impacting the spinal cord nerves can result in loss of strength. Generally some cause other than the drugs (unless taking a drug known to cause nerve or muscle damage like one D4T/ddC/ddI for nerves or AZT for muscle) is the major factor. Drug related muscle weakness if often a diagnosis of exclusion when no other cause can be found. KH


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