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abour mr nelson vergel

Oct 21, 2012

hi doc, i was always inspired by melson vergel's story but today came to know that he has to take 45 pills a day and his hiv is highly drug resistant and he is out of option? if so, why doctors across the world show a false belief of normal life span and near healthy for a poz? i lost faith.

Response from Mr. Vergel

Dr Young forwarded me your question/comment.

I understand why you feel that way after watching the latest video of me that Mark King made. As you can tell in the video, I am doing OK. Yes, I take a bunch of pills but I am happy to be alive with this bug for 28 years. The video was intended to provide tips for adherence from different people who are living with HIV.

As a long term survivor who developed drug resistance after joining several studies that provided suboptimal HIV regimens, I am lucky to be alive. I have only been able to suppress my virus to undetectable levels in the past 3 years by joining a study of a drug called ibalizumab. If it was not for that drug study, I would be in trouble. So, I enjoy life to the maximum and thank the Universe everytime I take my pills. And I try my best to stay optimistic for a cure that may be a reality in the next few years.

Luckily, I belong to a minority of HIV+ patients. I am a long term survivor with multiple drug resistance ( they call us salvage patients). But many people are doing well with one pill a day (Atripla, Complera and Stribld)and other regimens that are better tolerated that what we used to have.

Yes, as some of us age, we may be starting to have health issues that we need to be hyper aware of, but I think most long term survivors would tell you that they are trying to enjoy life as it comes since we have seen the worst of it.

So, don't get discouraged. Do not lose hope. Things really are better for many, although the latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control show that only 25 percent of HIV+ people in the US have undetectable viral load. Most of this issue has to do with adherence, lack of access for some, and disparities in care that still need to be fixed.

Use my story as one that shows that even in the face of adversity some of us can still thrive. It is not easy sometimes, but we can make a choice in every moment to focus on what we have and not on what we have lost (our health, etc).

Stay in touch and keep reading our info and watching our videos. There is lots of hope!


Switching combinations periodically to give kidneys/liver a break
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