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borrowedtime
Newbie

Reged: 08/31/08
Posts: 9
aggressive strain
      #245275 - 04/08/09 02:07 PM

is there anyone who has an "aggressive strain" of the hiv virus who can share about his/her health/survival experiences? i was told last monday, 04/06/09, that i have an aggressive strain and is being started right away on meds after 13 months of infection. i plan to start on saturday, 04/11/09. my meds will be 300mg viread, 300mg reyataz, 100mg norvir and 400mg isentress, about 5 pills/day (2x/day for isentress). is it a not so good picture ahead having an aggressive strain? thank you so much for any feedback.

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beejaycee
Newbie

Reged: 04/09/09
Posts: 1
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245281 - 04/09/09 06:40 AM

6 months after I seroconverted, my CD4s were down to 436. One month later I was at 347. Three years later my CD4s were at 11% and my count was at 181. That was over 15 years ago - before we talked about 'aggressive' strains, AZT was pretty much the only drug available for most people, and I had to take one pill every 4 hours. Now my count is over 600, my viral load is >47, and I take 3 pills twice every day. Hopefully this shows you that even though it is scary at first and you feel like you are in shock, with good medical advice (which it sounds like you have if you and your doc are talking about aggressive strains) it is manageable.

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pr753
Newbie

Reged: 04/09/09
Posts: 1
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245282 - 04/09/09 10:25 AM

Try not to worry. In December 2006 I tested HIV negative, then five months later I tested positive and my CD4 was already down to 250. The doctors had told me that most people live for years without needing meds, I'd gone from testing negative, to testing positive and to starting on meds (my CD4 dropped to 198) within 8 months! However, once I started on meds my viral load went undetecatble very quickly, and although my CD4 still isn't high I haven't suffered any more health problems than a "normal" person. So long as your treatment works well I'd say it probably doesn't make a difference. And I know it's a cliche but worrying about it really does just make everything worse.

I hope you feel a bit better for having heard my story.

Regards,
Paul

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borrowedtime
Newbie

Reged: 08/31/08
Posts: 9
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245287 - 04/09/09 02:46 PM

thanks a lot paul and beejayce for your feedback. your health/survival experience with an aggressive strain of virus is very encouraging for me. i decided to start taking the meds today, thursday, 04/09/09 (and not wait for the weekend), and took the first 4 pills after breakfast with 1 more pill later at bedtime. hopefully they work well even as i have a concern about a slightly declining kidney function. my heartfelt thanks for being so kind to reply and share your story.

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skier
Newbie

Reged: 04/10/09
Posts: 3
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245299 - 04/10/09 03:44 PM

I have a VERY aggressive strain of the virus and I'm fine! But it was very scary at first. I was infected on Aug 5, 2003 in a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia after being injured in a car bomb attack by terorists at the Jakarta Marriot Hotel. On Jan 21, 2004 my CD4 count was 724 and my viral load 67,334. The news of course was a terrible blow, but I was told my CD4 was robust and my first inclination was to survive this thing by a healthy diet, exercise and supplements. I did NOT want to have to go on drugs!
Four weeks later, on Feb 23 my CD4 count was 466 and my viral load was 270,000. My doctor who is the head of the HIV department at Yale-New Haven and has limited his practice to HIV/Aids since the early 1980s said that was impossible and had me come back immediately for another blood test. Two weeks later, on Mar 5 my CD4 count was 141 and my viral load was 464,000. As soon as my doc got those results I had to go in on an emergency basis and get on drugs. Since he had never seen anything like this and didn't have time to test to see if the virus was resistant to any drugs, he put me on the strongest regimen possible: Kaletra, Sustiva, Epivar and Zerit. I took 12 pills a day. They made me very ill the first 2 weeks, but they knocked the crap out of the virus. My viral load dropped like a brick and within 6 months it was undetectable and has stayed undetectable for 5 years now.
In the meantime, my doc sent samples of my blood to the CDC(Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta. It turns out my strain is from Asia (no surprise there) and it was naive meaning it was not resistant to any drugs.
After i stabilized on the four drugs, we switched to 3 (Sustiva, Viread and Epivir). For the past two years I have been taking Atripla which is 3 drugs in one pill. The only problem I ever had with the drugs was the first 2 weeks. I was very ill until my body got used to them, but have had absolutely no problems since then.
I try to eat healthy, I exercise and I take a lot of supplements. My CD4 slowly rose to about 500 and stayed there for several years with an occassional 600 or 700. Last summer however, it jumped to 1100 and has remained fairly high ever since. I would still like to try going off drugs, but I do not have the support of my doctor or husband.
I made the decision to not keep my HIV a secret from anyone. It was very difficult at first telling my family and close friends. It took a lot out of me (and them) emotionally. Finally I told a good friend and instead of the gasp (oh my God you are going to die look) she said, "That must have hit you like a fucking ton of bricks!" I felt like she threw a bucket of ice cold water in my face. The difference was she knew HIV survivors and knew I wasn't going to die. What a revellation. As a result of that encounter, one of my goals is to tell as many people as I can so that they will be prepared if someone they love has to tell them . Now if I tell someone and they get that shocked/horror look on their face, I tell them I'm fine so get over it. I have no patience for that!
So you need to know how life is with an aggressive strain. I am a heterosexual married woman with 2 grown sons. I will celebrate my 60th birthday next month. I attend spinning class twice a week, ski (snow and water) whenever I can, play tennis and enjoy hiking. My husband and I plan to retire to Park City, Utah this summer. Life is good. I don't let HIV get in my way.
My advice to you is to make sure you have a good doctor, follow his/her advice, surround yourself with a good support system of friends and family, lead a healthy life and move on. You'll be fine, I promise. But you will need to persevere thoses first two weeks on drugs.

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borrowedtime
Newbie

Reged: 08/31/08
Posts: 9
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245322 - 04/12/09 11:53 PM

such a heart-lifting story. thank you so much, skier, for kindly sharing your time to write as well as your health/survival story. it's so encouraging to know from the replies that the meds really work (for an aggressive strain) and that i can still look forward to a longer healthy life. i'm now on my 4th day of medication and everything feels normal (no effects so far). maybe, paul (one of the repliers who shared his story), is right. we're probably just like any other "normal healthy person" (granting that the meds work). the only difference perhaps is that we're taking meds everyday. i would like to look at it that way. may we all have many many more healthy and wonderful days/years ahead.

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SA_Intellect
Guru

Reged: 03/27/06
Posts: 247
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245340 - 04/14/09 09:35 AM

An aggressive strain means that it wears down the immune system faster but that does not necessarily mean that the virus is any less susceptible to medication. A resistance test should have indicated what medication regimen would be the most appropriate. After starting the regimen, I would expect that you would see a normal response, starting with a very drop in viral load. As long as you take your medication as indicated, you'll be fine.

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borrowedtime
Newbie

Reged: 08/31/08
Posts: 9
Re: aggressive strain new
      #245345 - 04/14/09 02:48 PM

thank you for the added and encouraging feedback.

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