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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Feb 13, 2007

Dr. Conway:

Can HIV medications cause irreparable damage to the mitochondria, which in turn can lead to the developement of cancer in the lymphatic system?

Response from Dr. Conway

As nucleoside analogues in particular have some effect on human DNA polymerases (particularly the enzymes of mitochondria), there has always been some concern of them increasing the risk of cancer. To date, no such association has been reported.

This being said, there is some effect of nucleoside drugs (especially d4T and ddI) on mitochondria, occasionally leading to muscle weakness, myopathy and, rarely, lactic acidosis. Investigations for these conditions should be considered as soon as someone on such treatments develop weakness, muscle pain or anything similar to this.

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