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How long before death if I stop taking medication?

May 20, 2014

I am a white male living in South Africa, 55 years old. I have been HIV + for about 23-24 years (diagnosed in 1991). My CD4 hovers between 700 - 900 with undetected viral load. I take Invirase and Aluvia. I have been alcohol free and drug free for 9 years. I'm so damn tired of my pointless life. I am lonely, I am a disaster at my work and I never have money to get through a month. I really want to just give up. Make no mistake. I have tried and I have worked hard ... but there is never any improvement in my self-worth. I was like this long before I was ever HIV+. I have been to rehabs, therapy and church .... and I still feel like a wasted piece of crap. I don't have one gay friend ... let alone any HIV+ friends. I don't want any pity or empathy. I just give up and surrender to the fact that I am a curse to this planet and those around me. If I stopped taking the medication, how long would it take for me to die?

Response from Mr. Vergel

I am so sorry that you feel so horribly. I certainly hope that you do not chose to stop your medications. I know this will sound too blunt for most people reading this post,but there are better ways to die than withering away to AIDS. At your CD4 level it may take you a few years to eventually come down with PCP pneumonia, wasting syndrome, or some gut disease that will leave you weak and in bones depending on others. You have worked very hard to survive this long and you will also survive this dark hole you find yourself in right now.

You are obviously lonely and depressed. You admit that your self-worth is low to non-existent. But deep inside something has kept you fighting and staying healthy. What you have been able to achieve with your immune system can also be achieved with your mental health. Unfortunately, we do not have a magic pill that will make our "self loathing load" undetectable.

I have also been where you are now. And it is a living hell from what you think you will never escape. Counseling helped for a while but most of the time it made things worse.

I took Zoloft (an antidepressant) just to get me through the rough times (break the cycle of negative self talk). But for some people, finding the right antidepressant is not easy. Consumer reports have published results from a survey that said that many people have to switch antidepressants 6 times until they find the right one. Also, not every therapist is good for everyone. I wasted a lot of time and money on therapists that had no "method". As a technical guy, I needed tools.

In my search for solutions, I found a 3 day class that really helped me to get over the nasty self talk that I had in my head. It is called the Landmark Forum. You may want to give it a try. It really saved me hours of therapy. Here is the schedule in different cities this year:

Landmark Forum in South Africa

I also found a lot of help in this book that taught me about how to befriend my reality even if it is a tough one and to listen to my "pain-body": A New Earth

If you want to jump start your healing, I would strongly encourage you to do something drastic like taking a chance of a new way to shift your perception of life. I hope you can somehow start using some of the tips I provided. Be gentle with yourself but firm about having a plan for recovery. Let me know along the way if you need some coaching. That is why I am here!

Wishing you a fast recovery to regain your old self. Please let me know how you are doing. You really are not alone. There are many of us dealing with our inner demons in private and not sharing our burden. At least you are reaching out and hopefully you too will experience a shift in your perception about yourself and how you fit in this world.

Be strong,my friend.


What can I do to help HIV Cure research?
CD4 less than 50

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