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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Apr 9, 2011

I have a SEVERE form of Gynecomastia that has caused me great pain mentally! As a public school teacher, students either talk about it or some find the nerve to ask questions. I have not been able to go outside without a shirt on for over 5 years. ( no beach here for me) And I've found that even adults stare at my chest even when wearing the most binding of clothes. My doctors have said that I should be glad that this is the only side effect that I have from the medication but fail to realize its not, my most challenging and disturbing issue is what it has done to my psyche. I have checked with my insurance companies when I was working and none of which will pay for a procedure to get rid of it (for the tune of $3500-$4500) because it is considered cosmetic surgery. I've even written to The Doctors television show! I am now asking if you or someone can refer me to a plastic surgeon who is willing to do this pro bono. Or if there is a service that will loan me the funds to have this done. This is really a concern for me and has caused me great pain and anguish. My viral load has been undetectable for many years and I have a high T cell count, never been sick from this disease. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from someone in the very near future. Alonzo

Response from Dr. Henry

I assume you have had a medical/hormonal evaluation looking for contributing cause for the gynecomastia and whether a more fat friendly HIV regimen is an option for you?? That being said your situation is not rate yet remains extremely frustrating--sometimes the insurer will cover if convincing letter from you HIV doc is written about the the gynecomastia is a side effect of treatment and that it is harming your health. Some plastic surgeons will come up with a payment plan to cover the costs (even a loan from a bank/credit union or flex account looking at the hear ahead may help provide funds). You poignantly expose yet another problem with our health care system and an ongoing issue in HIV care. If any reader has a specific recommendations please post!! KH

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