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STARTING MEDS DURING SEROCONVERSION
Nov 29, 2009

Hi, I contracted HIV while actually practicing safe sex in July, the condom broke and we stopped- but 3 weeks later I fell extremely ill. We know I wasn't positive previous to this because I had just tested negative and the symptoms I had a few after the condom break were of Acute Infection. All of that has been really difficult to handle but my real question is concerning meds I'm now taking. Once I finally got an app with the doctor I wanted it was his recommendation to start treatment immediately as there could be some benefits to starting at such an early stage before fully converted. Sometimes the benefits make sense to me and sometimes I feel lost and uncertain that I should be taking hardcore medication at such an early stage and at my age(28). I take Truvada & Isentress and it cause me a lot of anxiety when I open up those bottles. Do you have any thoughts or information on my situation? Do we know of any benefits to starting while still healthy and seroconverting? What are they? And do they outweigh the cons of being medicated? Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thank you for questions. Most people do not get diagnosed in the very earliest time after infection as you did during what is known as the seroconversion period (before or just after HIV antibodies are observed in the blood) This is in the first few weeks of the infection. There are some docs who feel that starting treatment at these very early times is important to "preserve" the immune system from initial damage and allow it to attack HIV more strongly. But some data imply that even this may not be soon enough to stop the damage and that treatment may not add any early benefit. So most guidelines state that there is scientific controversy about whether to treat HIV during these early stages. Once the decision is made to start, the treatment is the same and the goals are the same: achieving viral suppression and maintaining an intact immune system. Your age also does not alter the goal of treatment. I hope this helps. Thanks Joe



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