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The Theory Behind Treatment During Primary Infection

March 31, 2000

When to start therapy is one of the biggest questions facing a person with HIV. One option to be considered is starting therapy during primary infection. Primary infection is the period of time immediately following initial infection with the virus. It is characterized by several possible symptoms including: fever, fatigue, sore throat, weight loss, muscle aches, headache, nausea, night sweats, diarrhea, and rash. Some people get just a few of these symptoms and others will get no symptoms.

There is a theory that starting antiretroviral medications during primary infection can offer some unique benefits to the person infected with HIV. The potential long-term clinical benefits of starting medications early are:

Please note, these benefits are only theoretical and the long-term clinical benefits of starting medication during primary infection have not been proven. In fact, there may be some serious risks involved in starting medications early in HIV infection including:

If you suspect a primary infection, there is help available. The University of Washington Primary Infection Clinic offers state-of-the-art testing, diagnosis, counseling, and follow up services. Services may be available even for those choosing not to start medications during primary infection. For more information or to make an appointment contact:

UW Primary Infection Clinic
206-720-4340 (Seattle)
1-800-968-1437 (WA)

You can also visit their website at:

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This article was provided by Seattle Treatment Education Project. It is a part of the publication STEP Ezine. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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