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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Switching regimen
Sep 6, 2000

Hi Doc,

I was infected on 1/00 due to condom failure with initial VL 41,000 and CD4 320. Went on Viracept/Ziagen/Epivir (PI and 2 NARTIs) on 3/00 and finally achieved undetectable 8/00 with minimal side effects. However, have some hair loss and afraid of possible lipodystrophy and would like to switch to Viramune/Ziagen/Zerit (NNRTI and 2 NARTIs). 2nd option is to switch to Viracept/Ziagen/Zerit (PI and 2 NARTIs).

Would like your opinion before seeing my doctor next week. Thanks much!

Response from Dr. Young

Congratulations of your excellent test results; they imply that you have done a great job in adherence to your first drug regimen. I usually recommend that patients stay on successful therapy, unless there is a compelling reason (rather than possible reason) to switch.

As for long term side effects, I want to stress that there is too little known about the causes of lipodystrophy to make strong recommendations about drug switches. Indeed, nearly all drug switch studies have failed to show any improvement in patients with established lipoatrophy or lipo-accumulation. Several studies have implicated a role for zerit; it is not clear if this means that zerit causes lipodystrophy. One study has shown has shown some benefit in lipodystrophy with the switch from zerit to other NRTIs. If the later is true, the proposed switch regimens would be disfavored. -BY

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D.

Medication and Liver - BY

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