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Saying hello for the first time and maybe some advice

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tlm67:
Hello,

I first want to say thanks to all who post on here, it had really helped me during this rough few weeks since finding out.

Quick history: 40 year old married male with 2 kids. November '06 was sick 2 weeks with flu like symptoms, fever, headache, sore throat and lost 18 pound because I couldn't eat--was told it was a sinus infection and given antibiotics.  Felt better and returned to work. For the next 4 months would get low grade fevers in the evenings and appetite was half of before--continued to loose weight.  Saw PCM several times, had numerous tests done and was always told everything checked out ok. Finally was tested for HIV in April, (previous test was Jan '05 when I retired from the Air Force, and came back positive. Wife tested negative so far(thank god) Two days later first labs came back with CD4 at 52 and viral load at less than 50 undetectable and my liver enzymes were elevated. I was started on Atripla, bactrim and biaxin. First night on meds was not good but now no side effects at all.  By learning so much on this site I questioned my ID doc and asked if the #'s made sense.  Also asked her to do a resistance test which produced a puzzled look on her face. She consulted with ID specialists in San Antonio (military) which told her to do a resistance test because it could be HIV-2, which I read can give false VL #'.  She wanted me also to have a biospy done on my lymph node under my arm. When I questioned her on that, she said because they were enlarge and my weight loss. I told her they shrunk once I started meds which also produced a puzzled look, so she felt for them and didn't feel them.  She asked me to meet her half way and have a CT scan done on them. Results came back benign but some fat deposits-- she now need to refer to find out what that indicates.  Second set of labs came back...CD4 jumped from 52 to 150 but another viral load test lost---have had 3 drawn with only 1 coming back and liver enzymes back to normal

Few questions I have:
1. Do those initial #'s seem unusual 52 CD4/less 50 VL
2. With such a low initial CD4(52) can I assume the Jan '05 test was faulty
3. Had anyone had a similar CT scan on lymph nodes and had fat deposits
4. My ID doc keeps talking about my unexplained weight loss as a symptom. I told her it was not unexplained, my appetite was suppressed so I lost weight. Since starting meds my appetite has come back with a vengeance, so I have been gaining it back. Is there a difference from that of someone who eats the same but still looses weight.
5. Can I possibly have HIV-2...read that it's extremely rare in the U.S.

Thanks again to all of you. Special thanks to J.R.E  Your knowledge and #'s were a great source of inspiration during a very hard beginning to my life with HIV

jordan:


Regarding your first question, anything under 200 would be categorized as AIDS vs. over 200 being defined as "HIV."

When I was diagnosed back in February of 2006 my CD4 was 267 - very close.

I had a swollen lymph node on my neck and basically ignored it for 1 month thinking it would 'go away'.  It wasn't until the dentist recommended I have it checked that I decided to take it seriously.

I couldn't have a needle biopsy done, so I had to go to surgery to have it removed and then tested.

Tissue markers came back positive for kaposi's sarcoma (named for Dr. Moritz Kaposi who first described it in 1872).

Good news is I started on Sustiva/Truvada (now I'm on Atripla) and I'm undetectable and my CD4 is at 557 Click HERE to see my trend.

Peace

Jordan

aztecan:
Hey Tim,

Yes, having an initial low CD4 and low viral load is somewhat unusual, but I have seen it before.

Do you drink alcohol? I don't mean a glass of wine with dinner, but substantial amounts? I have seen people whose immune system was very much compromised by heavy alcohol use.

I guess what I mean is do you drink a pint or more of hard liquor or a 12-pack or more of beer a day?

That has been the case for those whom I have known.

That would have been the first question I would have asked were I to meet you face-to-face with those numbers and elevated liver enzymes.

If not, well, I don't know. It could be the HIV type 2. It is rare here in the U.S., but not unheard of. You were in the Air Force. Were you ever stationed overseas, especially in someplace like Eastern Europe or Africa? If so, you might have picked up type 2 there.

Your doc is doing the right things by putting you on prophylaxes because of your CD4 and your starting meds seems to have helped too.

It seems she/he is worried about AIDS wasting syndrome, although maybe she hasn't said this. If that is the case, nutrition supplements would probably help. But you said you are doing better about eating and no other problems have surfaced, so I would ask her/her if this is still a concern.

Aside from that, keep doing what you're doing. Do keep us posted on how you are doing.

HUGS,

Mark

tlm67:
Mark,

Thanks for your reply.  I really haven't drank alcohol at all since I initially got sick-- more of a weekend partyer before that and my younger days.  My liver enzymes did come back to normal on my second labs. I still really am wondering if they messed up my first VL test.  I have had 3 taken and only 1 has come back at all.  I actually tried to  give blood today for a VL but was told it has to be sent out the same day, so I have to wait until Monday.  I was in Somalia and Kenya in 1993 but only used my hand for sexual gratification(LOL). I guess I still am questioning if the neg Jan '05 HIV test just missed it.  Could I have lost that many T-cells in 2 years or maybe I have poz for a long while. Of course I was sick (low grade fevers/fatigue) for 5 months after my seroconversion until they finally did the HIV test so maybe it hit my T-cells hard. My doc is an Air Force captain who has only 11 hiv-ers she treats and most not on meds. She offered to send me to Bethesda Naval Hospital which is 2 hours away-- I told her just let me get a few more labs and see my trends.
The 100 point increase in T-cells was finally some good news.

But in all I look at it this way.  Since my diagnosis and meds.  No more fevers, plenty of energy, wonderful appetite/weight gain, exercising more, hell of alot better diet, no OI's I know of except a little thrush(which I was told is from the strong antibiotics) still working 50 hours a week and most important the wife has tested neg.  Thanks again

     

aztecan:
Hey Tim,

Yep, they're right about sending the blood out the same day. I have to regularly tell people not to have their blood drawn on Thursdays or Fridays here, and only before 2 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They have to ship it quite a ways from here.

I wouldn't wonder if they didn't screw things up with the viral load, especially since you've have only one come back. If this pattern continues, I think I would take the doc up on Bethesda.

That said, it sounds like your doing great and getting better all the time, and the wife is still testing negative, which to me is a win-win situation. So, keep up the good work young man.

HUGS,

Mark

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