Oct 4, 1999
Doctors, thank you for providing such an informative and annonymous forum - - it is truly invaluable. I have been positive since last April. Came down with what turned out to be a sero conversion flu. That's how I discovered. I began treatment during the flu and well within twelve weeks went from 850,000 to undetectable (under 50). My T's are high, always were. I switched meds in September of '98 because the Crix was just too toxic. Am now on Viracept, Epvir and Zerit twice daily. I am doing well and have never had any sort of opportunistic infection. Knock wood.
Recently a friend of mine, also HIV+ and doing well on meds, was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The doctors cannot treat it. His only hope is a liver transplant. Unfortunately he was told by his doctors that he is not eligible for a transplant because he is HIV+. He is otherwise healthy and he was told that with a bit of luck and continued HIV meds, could live many more years without complications. In the same breath, the doctors had to give him official notice that, because he is not eligible for a transplant, he has only a year and a half to live. Everyone with HIV fights to keep their dignity, to not feel like pariahs, second-class citizens. There are even laws to protect us from discrimination. We are told to keep our chins up, that new treatments are popping up everyday. Current treatments are better than they've ever been. I was told that there is no reason why, with current meds, I shouldn't expect to have a normal life-span. Now I hear this news. What other life saving treatments are witheld from HIV+ people? What about heart transplants, kidney transplants and a hundred other possibilities? If what my friend was told is true, then there is little hope for anyone who is HIV+. What good is my excellent prognosis if I develop a non-HIV related problem for which I am ineligible for treatment?
I realize that my question to you is somewhat buried in my shock and anger, so I will ask it again. Are HIV+ people inelligible for treatments commonly awarded to non-HIV+ people simply because they are HIV+ and assumed to have necessarily shortened lives? As you know, it is difficult enough to live with HIV on it's own, this news adds a whole new hopeless dimension.
Response from Dr. Dieterich
The news should not be that bad. In fact many people treat hepatitis C even in the advanced state. I do that routinely. In addition, the folks in Pittsburgh have done some HIV+ liver transplants and plan to do 10 or so and evaluate the results. I also believe several other centers have done 1 0r 2. I would advise your friend to see an agressive treater of hepatitis. I would be happy to refer you to one if you told me where he/she is.Douglas T. Dieterich, M.D.
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