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International News

Canada: HIV Drugs Lauded, but Side Effects Severe

August 1, 2006

HIV/AIDS cases continue to rise in Canada as effective treatments allow many patients to live longer with the disease, a Canadian health official said Monday. In 1993, 1,564 people died of AIDS-related illnesses, compared to 440 deaths in 2003. HIV/AIDS cases increased by an estimated 8,000 infections between 2002 and 2005, to 58,000 total, according to a report released yesterday by Public Health Agency of Canada.

"HIV treatments have substantially improved the survival of those living with HIV," said Dr. Frank Plummer, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control. "The number of Canadians living with HIV infection will likely increase in the years to come as new infections continue and survival rates improve."

But while the drugs can extend some patients' lives, they can also produce severe side effects including nausea, fatigue, damaged internal organs and abnormal fat distribution called lipodystrophy. People on the drugs may experience depression, commit suicide or die from kidney or liver failure, said Louise Binder, a spokesperson for Voices of Positive Women.

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"This is a prevention message," said Binder. "Don't get the feeling that you can be as carefree as you want to, and pop these pills and it will all be dandy. Taking these drugs is no picnic." Binder said the side effects from her new medication are so bad she told her doctor that, though she has few options, "I don't want to live this way."

Back to other news for August 1, 2006

Adapted from:
Toronto Star
08.01.06; Moira Welsh


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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