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

Hello, I will make this short. I've submitted this situation before, without a response. I've even been trying to get a response from a different forum because I'm thinking, well maybe I'm asking my question in the wrong forum. I'd appreciate if you could shed some light, even if a little. This has been the scariest experience I've ever been through.

Alright, I was on Combivir for having unprotected vaginal sex, the guy did not cum in me, but I was in fear b/c I didn't know his status truly & didn't want to take his word for it, he had told me he was negative. On day 26 after being on Combivir, I had sex with the same guy, but this time the condom broke & he came inside me. he didn't tell me the condom broke, & I saw the broken condom after he took it off (I won't get into details about that). I panicked & my doctor put me on another 28 day regimen, but with Combivir & Sustiva. I had no appetite while being on this new PEP regimen. 14 days after the 2nd possible exposure my cycle came on & it was a week early, I also got diarrhea. 6 days later I had passed out & was taken to the hospital. I had a fever of 101, & they said I was dehydrated & had a bladder infection & was also pregnant. I didn't believe the pregnancy portion, because I had just had my period. They said it was possible breakthrough bleeding. I was given antibiotics, & was told to discontinue the Sustiva. Well, I ignored the directions & continued the Sustiva b/c I really didn't feel I was pregnant & it was a mistake. 2 days, later I was still feeling bad, & went to another hospital. They confirmed my bladder infection. My urine was blood red, & thick, I still had diarrhea, & my fever fluctuated from 98 normal to 101.2 off & on. They did a sonogram, & urine & confirmed that I WASN'T pregnant & gave me different anibiotics for my bladder infection. At the end of the 2nd week of me being sick & my last week of the 2nd PEP regimen, I had stopped Sustiva 3 days prior because.. It felt like it was making my fever worse at night & I was feeling a bit itchy here & there, but not enough to scratch. So basically on day 24 I stopped taking the Combivir. On day 27, still on Combivir though, & antibiotics from the hospital, I had broken out in an extremely uncontrollably itchy rash on my arms & neck. I had a throbbing heachache, which worsened when I walked or stood up. Benadryl was not working for the rash & I took nothing for the headache. I still had a fluctuating body temperature of 98-101.2 off & on. I took a shower, & soon afterwards vomited up my medicine. The next day I had collapsed b/c I was so weak. I was taken back to the first hospital. They said a week ago from my first visit my whiteblood cells were down, but now they were normal. My red blood cells were at 12, but it had dropped to 5 & I required a blood tranfusion. At the time my symptoms were horrible headache, bloody urine, fluctuating fever,itchy rash, & diarrhea. I had no cold like symptoms & no swollen lymphnodes. I was scared out of mind because all I cold think of was ARS symptoms. I was given 3 pints of blood. They ran test to check for bleeding. They gave me a steroid for the rash, & I was put on a different antibiotic for the bladder infection b/c blood was coming through my urine. They said something was destroying my red blood cells rapidly, & I needed to be under supervision after the transfusion to see what happens. I had all tests run on me. On day 32, after possible exposure I gave in to my fear, & let them do a HIV test, they did a rapid test & an ELISA, both were negative. During my 7 days at the hospital, my fever went away, & my urine returned to normal. I got my appetite back, double actually, & my stool became normal also. My blood remained stable, though they didn't rise to a normal level, but they said it would take about 3 months for me to rebuild my red blood cells myself. They concluded that the PEP regimen I had been on was so strong it was destroying my red blood cells, & I had also been allergic to the sulfur contained antibiotics I was previously given, that could be where the itchy rash came from, that or the PEP. I knew I was allergic to sulfur, but I had no idea the one the antibiotics had sulfur in it. I was diagnosed as a hemoglobic. I was sent home with a special diet & folic acid pills & directions to follow up. I wouldn't wish this experience on anybody. I'm still scared though. Maybe it was just a possible reaction like they said, & I just need to follow up. But the time & sequence of events is just too coincidental. I'm still nervous, even after my testing, I know I will have to get tested again soon at the 3 month interval. But I am scared out of my skin, just thinking about what I went through, those medications & ARS symptoms. Please shed some light if you can. My question is could PEP medications give you ARS-like symptoms? Why would I have a reaction to Combivir if I had already been on it for 4 weeks prior to it's combination with Sustiva? Does Sustiva make this combination therapy stronger which could have in turn caused my side effects? Or could I have just been seroconverting period & I have HIV?


Always Worrying

Response from Dr. Conway

None of what you describe relates in any way to HIV serocnversion in a specific manner. All of this could be due to an intercurrent infection and/or side effects of the zidovudine component of the Combivir ans well as the Sustiva. I would focus on having serial blood tests for HIV antibodies. If ir is negative 12 weeks after the possible exposure, you are home-free.

changing my medication
switching Kaletra from once to twice daily

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