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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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swollen lymph nodes and neck pain
Dec 15, 2001

I am a recently-diagnosed HIV+ mother of five, still reeling from the news. Am on Epivir/Zerit/Sustiva combination and my CD4 count is now slightly above 200 and viral load <50. My most pressing question is this: Among the myriad symptoms (you name it; I had it) that led to my diagnosis this summer, the swollen lymph nodes in my neck and (seemingly) resultant neck pain have returned, though not to the same degree. I'm terrified that this means that the virus is "reactivating" and reproducing. Is there any other possible explanation?

Response from Dr. Henry

Often lymph nodes can swell in this situation due to recovery of the immune system (a good thing) which can results in more T-cells in the blood and the lymph nodes (which can cause symptoms). If your HIV level is still good (hopefully not detectable) and the T-helper cells still increasing then the swollem nodes may well be due to immune recovery. All types of infections in the head and mouth region can cause lymph nodes in the neck to swell so you should check with your HIV doc to make sure there isn't another explanation. KH

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