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Jan 19, 2009

Dr. Young--As a frequent visitor to this site (I was an obsessive visitor 7-8 years ago when I wasn't sure if the medicine was going to work) I thought I should add my experience using HAART. I was diagnosed HIV+ in December 2001. My doctor started me on Trizivir as that was the new combination at the time. I had terrible nausea, lost some of my sense of taste...DIET COKE began to taste terrible!!!! After about three months on that drug, I begged to switch off as my quality of life was in the toilet..always felt sick and I began to develop muscle pains in my thighs. The next combo was Viramune, Ziagen and Epivir. I made it through the two week induction phase but after about three weeks, I broke out in a rash on my my doctor had me stop all meds for two weeks. After this break, we did a PHENOTYPE test which showed I was sensitive to all I went on another triple NRTI combo for a year until I had a viral breakthrough....right around this time, it became clear that TRIPLE NRTI combos were not potent enough for full suppression. Another resistance test led to my current regimen of TRUVADA/VIRAMUNE which is going strong after six years.....I started treatment with CD4's at 215 and CD4% at 28%. My current CD4 count is over 600 and my CD4% is in the 40% number.

The year before I was diagnosed, I suffered from constant sinus infections and had a lot of skin problems...pesky rashes and irritations that I blamed on detergents and other environmental causes.

Now, I only get the occasional sinus infection and my skin problems cleared up after a year on HAART.

I am 46 years old and have lived in Los Angeles since least half of my friends from that period if not more died from HIV infection and I too witnessed the end of the death sentence in the mid 90's when protease inhibitors appeared and I saw a few people actually "get well" and stay well.

It wasn't easy getting to this point...I wouldn't wish my side effects of TRIZIVIR on anyone but it was the journey I had to take to get to the point where I am today. I have met a few younger HIV+ guys in their late 20's and early 30's who don't know anyone who has died from HIV.....I kind of feel like it is my responsibility to speak out when I can to honor my friends who didn't make it.....I didn't believe my doctor back in 2001 when he told me I was going to live long enough to die from something other than HIV. It was hard to erase the late 80's and early 90's from my memory bank.

I am very fortunate to be on a HAART regimen that causes me no physical side effects and is easy to take. I am also happy to see so many new treatments come through the pipeline. 99.9% of the time, I feel pretty confident that I am going to live through this part of my life which is a complete 180 degree turn from 2001.

Thanks for the good work!!!!

Response from Dr. Young

Dear Los Angeles guy,

Thank you for sharing your story. While your first regimen didn't work out well, it seems clear that despite this you've done very, very well.

Be well in 2009,


Not Taking Meds

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