treating anemiam


what are some recent developments for curing or minimizing anemia and which people are subjected to anemia the most?



"Anemian?" Isn't he a rap singer or something like that?

As for anemia, there are many types and causes. The treatment and chance for cure depend on the cause.

Some types of anemia are temporary and have relatively simple causes, like diet. For example, a nutritional shortage of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. Similarly, anemia can develop from inadequate intake of vitamin B12, and/or folic acid. Treatment for these types of anemia is quite simple - nutritional supplements. Other common causes of anemia include blood loss (trauma, excessively heavy menstrual cycles, etc.). Treatment or cure would involve stopping the excessive blood loss.

There are hereditary forms of anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, that can be much more difficult to treat.

In HIV-positive folks, anemia can result form several causes, including:

  1. HIV itself (anemia of chronic disease)
  2. Medication toxicities (AZT, Bactrim, ganciclovir, dapsona, pyrimethamine, interferon, cancer chemotherapy, etc.)
  3. Opportunistic infections (MAC, TB, fungal infections, CMV, parvovirus B19, etc.)

Treatment of these conditions once again depends on the cause.

Often the best treatment for HIV-related anemia is Procrit. Procrit is a medication that is identical to a substance your body produces naturally called "erythropoietin." Erythropoietin stimulates the production of new red blood cells. Procrit is not new. In fact, it's been used very effectively for over a decade. However, what is relatively new is that it can now be dosed just once per week. It's self-administered by a small injection given just under the skin. Procrit also has a proven safety track record and does not have any significant drug interactions with other HIV- or non-HIV-related medications.

Who is most likely to get anemia? No one is immune to anemia. It can happen to anyone. In folks like me with HIV infection, about 25% of us will have some form of anemia sometime during the course of the illness. Luckily, current treatments, especially Procrit, are highly effective and safe! If you want some really recent developments, there are some ongoing clinical trials looking to see if Procrit can be dosed every 2 weeks, rather than every week. We are not recommending that yet, as the clinical trials have just begun. But who knows? Perhaps in the future, the already convenient once-per-week dosing of Procrit may get even more convenient! Stay tuned to this forum and we'll keep you posted.

Dr. Bob