Oct 9, 1996
My friend has a count of about 325 and is on AZT and DDc-this Tuesday he is scheduled to have a flu shot at his clinic and I am concerned-I have heard that these shots can be dangerous--specifically that they can stimulate the replication of HIV -also can the shot interact with the AZT/DDc?
Response from Dr. Cohen
There have been some studies that suggest that the flu shot (and perhaps other immunizations) may lead to a brief rise in HIV viral load, which theoretically could accelerate the progression of HIV disease. On the other hand, there have also been a number of other studies in which no such increase in viral load was found.
While it's certainly possible that the flu shot could cause the viral load to go up for a short time, it's also likely that actually having the flu has a much greater effect. This year, the flu is expected to be particularly nasty. Therefore, I continue to recommend the flu vaccine for my patients, especially if they have a high enough CD4 cell count to be able to respond to vaccines (above 200, for example). Patients with very low CD4 cell counts probably don't respond to the flu shot, anyway, so for them the small risk may outweigh the benefit. Of course, I try to have my patients on effective antiretroviral therapy, which should blunt any rise in viral load resulting from the vaccine.
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