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February 6, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Hepatitis C
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    What's the "Average Lifespan" for HIVers -- and Why?
    Dr. Wohl, in your podcast interview on The Body last week, you discussed a recent study that came up with an "average lifespan" of 24.2 years for people diagnosed with HIV. I have many questions about what this research means, what it says about the good (and bad) effects of HIV medications, and how the scientists came to their conclusion. Could you shed some more light on the results of this study?

    You can listen to Dr. Wohl talk about the "average lifespan" study by clicking here, or read a transcript here. The discussion was part of a larger podcast in which Dr. Wohl recapped the top HIV medical stories of 2006; click here to read or listen to the full interview.


    Have We Given Up on a "Cure" for HIV?
    I'm dismayed at the extent to which people seem to have given up on finding a cure for HIV. Huge amounts of money seem to be flowing towards vaccine and microbicide research, which is all really encouraging. But what about those of us who are already infected? Will we just be left out in the cold when the problem seems to have been "solved" by a vaccine? Are there any organizations who are still researching a cure? I don't look forward to taking pills every day for 40 years!


    What Does a Low HIV Replication Capacity Signify?
    I am trying to determine if I need to go on meds; my CD4 count is 311 and my viral load is low. I took a resistance test and the results yielded a replication capacity of 21 percent. My doctor says this is low, which is good, right? The test also showed resistance to the NNRTI class of HIV meds. Is it safe for me to wait a while longer before committing to a regimen?
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     HIV TREATMENT

    Does My Regimen Have a Time Limit?
    I have been on the same regimen of HIV meds for about two years. My health is in great shape: My CD4 count is up and my viral load is down. However, I read somewhere that my regimen -- Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) -- has a length of treatment of about two years. Is this true?


    High CD4, "Average" Viral Load: When Should I Start Treatment?
    Since I was diagnosed with HIV in December 2005, my CD4 count has generally hovered in the 500s and my viral load has ranged from 25,000 to 86,000. When do you think I should begin taking meds?


    Treatment During Acute HIV Infection
    I was infected with HIV just one week ago (a PCR test has confirmed it). When I was exposed, my doctor immediately prescribed Combivir (AZT/3TC) + Viracept (nelfinavir) to prevent HIV infection, but due to a pharmacist's error, I was given a much lower dose of Viracept than I was prescribed. I'm now taking the correct dose, but since I definitely have HIV, should I continue taking Combivir + Viracept, or should I switch to more aggressive treatment?


    If I'm Doing Well on Combivir + Sustiva, Should I Still Switch to Atripla?
    I've been taking Combivir (AZT/3TC) + Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) since April 2003. During this time, my viral load has consistently been undetectable, my CD4 count has never fallen below 739 and I've had few side effects. However, my doctor is advising me to switch to Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC), arguing that it is an easier regimen to take and has fewer side effects. I'm reluctant to stop a regimen that's working so well. Do you have any advice?


    Alarmed by Sharp CD4 Drop During Treatment Holiday
    I stopped HIV treatment about three years ago. When I stopped, my CD4 count was 1,100; now it's 500. Why am I losing CD4 cells at such a fast rate? I had a lot of side effects from my first HIV treatment regimen, so I'd rather postpone restarting meds as long as possible.


    I Need to Be on HIV Meds, But Could Holistic Therapy Work?
    I have been off HIV meds for two years now. My CD4 count is 34 and my viral load is 450,000. I realize that I need to return to treatment, but I hate the way the meds make me feel. Could holistic therapy work for me?
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     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    Ringing in My Ears Is Driving Me Crazy
    My stats are fine (CD4 count 550, viral load 750), but I feel awful: I'm tired all the time and I never want to get out of bed. I'm also suffering from neuropathy. The worst part of it is that my ears are constantly ringing. Please tell me: Why am I feeling this way?


    Why Are My Cheeks Swelling?
    I've been HIV positive for 25 years, with a current CD4 count of 150 and an undetectable viral load. I've been undergoing treatment for facial wasting (Sculptra) with excellent results. On my last visit, my doctor told me that the slight swelling I am developing in my cheeks could be an illness he called lymphoproliferative syndrome. However, I've done my own research, and I think it could be lymphoma. Do you have any other ideas for what could be causing my cheeks to swell?
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     HEPATITIS C

    Hepatitis C Drugs on the Horizon
    Are any promising new hepatitis C treatments being tested in clinical trials?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    HIV From a Lap Dance With Holey Pants?
    I discovered that my pants were torn during a lap dance a few weeks ago. Ever since, I've been worrying that fluid got into that hole in my pants and gave me HIV. The last time I asked this question you said my risk was "non-existent," but now I'm experiencing flu-like symptoms -- dizziness and headaches. It's possible that I'm not feeling well because I haven't gotten much sleep lately, but should I get tested for HIV just in case?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the February 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Love Light Series III," 1997;
    Hunter Reynolds
    Visit the February 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "You Darkness"; it's curated by Bruce Hackney, a director at the art gallery Yvon Lambert, and Tim Smith, 48, administrative manager of the artist Lisa Ruyter's studio.