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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Why do I have so many symptoms and side effects?
Nov 27, 2007

I was diagnosed with AIDS in April 2005. My viral load was 88,000 and my cd count was 24. I had PCP pneumonia. My best guess is that I contracted HIV in 2000. Since my 2-week stay in the hospital in 2005, I have been disabled, with a variety of symptoms and side effects. I have chronic diarrhea and loose stools, I have trouble sleeping more than 4-5 hours per night, I have daily migraine headaches, nausea, periodic double vision, lightheadedness, and very little energy. I have been through every test imaginable, MRI's, etc. I have seen a variety of doctors, and the consensus seems to be that I may not get any better than I am today. My viral load is undetectable, and my cd-4 count is 315. I have been on a variety of hiv med regimes, starting with truvada and sustiva, which gave me rashes and nightmares, followed by truvada and reyataz, which had drug interaction with my acid reflux meds, lexiva and truvada, and my viral load returned, and currently kaletra and truvada which restored my viral load to undetectable. I am 47 years old. I am unable to work, and collect a decent disability check, so finances are of no immediate concern. Do I have any hope of life ever getting back to normal?

Response from Dr. Conway

First, I am quite pleased that you seem to be responding to the therapy and having an undetectable viral load and a good CD4 count...keep up the good work!!!

As for your side effects, I can offer 3 possibilities. First, your immune system was so weak to begin with that you developed some wasting and other direct effects of the HIV that will take some more time to recover as your system ultimately heals. Second, you may yet have a condition that his not been diagnosed, such as in your bowels. You should think about reviewing all the tests that have been done, to see if some of them (or others) need to be done again, or if you need to consider some form of empiric treatment, such as for parasites in the bowels. Third, could it be that you are depressed? I have often been fooled by people with multiple physical symptoms that have quickly improved when antidepressants were used. At this stage, if I were you, I would keep hope and not accept the conclusion that you will always remain sick...

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