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56 and still working rotating shifts
Jan 7, 2009

I'm 56 years old and have had HIV for 6 years. My viral load has been undetectable for most of that time and my CD4 count is around 1000. I started taking thyroid meds to lessen the fatigue and I'm taking Atripla with great success. I am feeling better but still deal with the occasional diarrhea and usual feeling of being somewhat tired. My question is two fold. Do HIV+ 50+ year olds still work or do most of them go on LTD? Second, I work a rotating 12 hour shift with some occasional 18 hour shifts and wonder if these work hours will harm me over the long haul. I work for a large company (27 years) and can retire or take LTD anytime so money and medical coverage isn't an issue. So, do people like me normally work rotating shifts, straight shifts or do most over 50 take LTD? Thank you for your time and answer.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Hooray! This is a question I've long hoped someone would send. How great that you're well enough to be in this situation! I'm delighted that you're doing so well on Atripla, and especially that you have options.

There is no "normally" in your situation. There aren't yet a lot of "people like you," although I hope your ranks will grow. You are in the vanguard of a generation we hoped but did not dare expect would exist ten years ago. You're creating the new normal!

A dear friend who is one year younger than you are and has lived with HIV for many years took a new job in Europe a year ago and carries global responsibilities. I was and am stunned by what he accomplishes. His perspective is that his "second life" began in 1996 when protease inhibitors became available, so by his reckoning, he's now about 22 at age 55.

I'm not qualified to address your medical situation, but your workplace situation means you can do what you think is best for your (whole) life. Do you need the stimulation of working? Is work your best place for being with people you enjoy? Could you remain adherent to your regimen if you had a different daily schedule? Do you have a clear idea of how you would invest your time and stay healthy if you stopped working? What would your new routine be? Would it be satisfying? Your quality of life is the big issue here, and you can make your decision with that in mind. I am thrilled for you that you have that choice!



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