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Will I go on medications
Jan 5, 2003

I just got the bad news that I was HIV positive on my 38th birthday, I always feel very strong and healthy, and so I least expected it, however the reason I checked was due to a recurrent bout of Shingles which is consuming me, my question is- As strong as I feel do you think if I see the doctor he will put me on meds?.

Response from Dr. Aberg

No easy answers here. The question of when to start medications is complex. Currently most experts recommend that one should start HIV meds (antiretroviral therapy, ART) when the CD4 count is around 350 or lower, high HIV viral load (amount of HIV in the bloodstream) and/or symptoms associated with HIV. One could make an argument that given you have had recurrent shingles that you should start ART regardless of your CD4 count or HIV viral load. But the other aspect is that you must be willing and want to commit to taking your ART as directed without missing doses. There are many choices for someone who has never been on therapy before. I have a sense from your e-mail that you are hesitant to start hence the question of whether I feel you need them. Go talk with your healthcare provider and have a complete examination with blood tests including your CD4 and HIV viral load. After you have more information, you may feel better about making the decision to start or not.



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