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Excessive blood draws?

Apr 21, 2001

I tested postive about 10 weeks ago. First evaluation showed viral load >584,000 and T-Cells about 20. (Diagnosis came after severe case of PC pneumonia.)

I am very phobic about needles, and generally have an aversion to going to the doctor. Although I realize I'm going to have to get over a lot of this, how often should I expect to have to have blood draws? (I've been on Sustiva, Epivir, Zerit and Viracept for 30 days, and have had four draws at the request of my doctor-and I have to dose up on Ativan to get through those.)

It's making it very difficult for me to go to the doctor when I think I should. I'm afraid I will go back to my old habits of waiting until it's almost too late.

Any suggestions how I can approach my doctor on this issue?

Response from Dr. Boyle

The antiretroviral regimen you are on, which has a relatively low rate of systemic toxicity, should not require 4 blood draws in 30 days. You may, however, have other issues that require careful monitoring and you need to discuss the reasons for the blood draws with your doctor (for example, what is he looking for when he draws your blood). Try to discuss this with your doctor and arrive at an understanding about the need for blood draws and when you can expect that they will take place. Several of my patients hate to have their blood drawn, and therefore I do them as seldom as possible and make sure that I do everything at once. Your doctor should be able to do the same for you. Not seeing your doctor, given your current situation, would be a huge mistake. BB

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