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Will I be able to continue as normal
Mar 15, 2001

Dear Doctor I was diagnosed HIV+ Nov 2000. I haven't started theraphy yet but my numbers are getting bad and my doctor suggests that I should start theraphy soon. I am still overwhelmed by all this (I sometimes go through up to 10 different emotions in one day - pain, anger, helplessness, shame, hope, resentfulness, anxiety etc.) My biggest worry at the moment is whether I will be able to continue with my normal life once I start medication,I am a recently qualified professional and my career has just taken off. Do all the people on medication still continue with their normal jobs or should I expect a situation where I will not be able to wake up to go to work for days/ weeks and what are my chances of me really doing well in my new profession (my work requires very long hours). Ps answer me and if possible can I get input from other positive people in my situation.

Many thanks

Response from Dr. Boyle

I certainly understand your concerns, but fortunately most of my patients continue to work and go about their usual daily activities, even though they are taking antiretrovirals. The medications have gotten much simpler and better tolerated over the past couple of years. You should discuss the medications with your doctor and review dosing schedules, side effects and other concerns you may have and he should be able to design an antiretroviral regimen that suits you best. Good luck. BB

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I will respond to your very important question, but I am also referring your question to one of The Body's medical experts in the Expert Forum on Side Effects and Symptoms. So be sure to check there for other responses.

Most people are able to continue to work while they are adjusting to any of a broad range of possible side effects that can certainly make a normal work day difficult at best or even impossible. This will depend entirely on how you respond to the medications. There is not any general rule, but most people I know have been able to continue to work, though they felt poorly or wrestled with obnoxious side effects. This is a time to get all the emotional support available to you. Enlist friends, your partner if you are coupled, and your family to be available to problem solve with you. This would also be a perfect time to join a support group for other people living with the virus in order to get their perspectives and assistance.

If you work in a large company you might want to speak to someone in your HR department. You don't need to tell him or her that you have HIV, but you could certainly tell them that you have been diagnosed with a serious illness for which you will have to begin some powerful medications. Brain storm with this person about how best to approach your supervisor or boss. Good luck with this difficult transition. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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