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HIV Health and Treatment Issues >> Treatment & Side Effects

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Picard239
Newbie

Reged: 02/08/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Atripla users - please help a newbie
      #275314 - 02/08/14 09:17 AM

Hello all, I've been poz for about 9 months now. My numbers are listed below. It is comforting to see that the stages I have been going through and will probably continue to do so have been experienced by most of the members of this forum. I do have a couple of questions that perhaps someone who has been on atripla can help me with.
1. I have been very faithful to taking my meds at the same time every night, I have a watch alarm and a phone alarm that go off to remind me, however due to my job, sometimes I have to run out the door at a moments notice and twice during the last 8 months I have forgotten to take my pill with me, I have returned home 3-4 hours later and took it immediately both times. I know there is a " half life" to atripla, but the forgiveness levels are all over the board. What do you think? Anyone else have this problem and there labs still come back ok?
2. Speaking of labs, I was wondering what you all think? I am in my mid 40's , I am hoping that I can stay on atripla for a long time, I really have had no side effects other than dreams and they are kinda nice. Thanks for any help.

06/25/13 CD4 %: 18 %
06/25/13 Viral Load (HIV): 68020 copies/mL
06/25/13 CD4 Count: 303 cells/mm3
07/25/13 Atripla
08/29/13 CD4 Count: 449 cells/mm3
08/29/13 CD4 %: 21.5 %
08/29/13 Viral Load (HIV): 180 copies/mL
12/19/13 CD4 Count: 518 cells/mm3
12/19/13 Viral Load (HIV): 0 copies/mL
12/19/13 CD4 %: 25.9 %


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anotherday
Moderator

Reged: 05/15/13
Posts: 365
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275315 - 02/08/14 10:29 AM

Hello Picard239, and welcome to body website and being positive. I am also quite new to this coming up to one year now since diagnosis and eleven months of Atripla.

Read some of my previous posts and you'll put together my story about extremely low CD4's and moderately high VL, but with Atripla it worked very well, pleasing my medical team infact. They warned me of side effects but I had nothing, not even the dreams. I reported to them I was very upset about this because I had better halucinations when I was drinking excessivly prior to going on meds (I have since been sober too because of diagnosis day).

My Atripla is my 10PM reminder I have HIV, every night betweem 9pm and midnight I take my pill. It fluctuates occassionally depending on my evening, but I strive for the "as close to 10PM" as possible routine. It hasn't effected my counts at all, and upon reporting my routine to my medical team they reported the occassional one or two hours late isn't an issue, skipping completely, now that's the issue! Stay 98% consistant, but don't miss a dosage, they tell me and Atripla can work wonders for me for many years if not the rest of my life, I'm 50! Check with your medical team, but I would say 3-4 hours late once or twice a month will not hurt Atriplas effectiveness at all.

Before some of the people pounce on this and slam some "Doctors" for being miss-informed about what they tell me, please note I go to one of the top notch HIV programs in Western Canada located at the University of Alberta, these are not GP's throwing darts at a diagnosis wall to see what works best!

Like I mention on here all the time though, this is just MY experience, it is very important to become best friends with your medical team, they will get to know you best be able to tell you how your body will react. From your numbers posted though I would say there isn't much worry if you have already been in a late dosage situation a time or two. Keep in mind though your December numbers only indicate "undetectable" it's not zero, your not "cured" ... that one my medical team explained "we will say zero but it's just because the VL is at an extreme low that we call it zero or undetectable, it's just in the 1-99 count!

All the continued success to you, your on the right track, HIV is not that big of an issue to manage anymore, thank the powers that be, and please don't be a stranger on this site. Keep in mind you are not alone with your journey when your here, we all share this common thread and are on the same journey ... different scenery but the same journey!

--------------------
anotherday ... in paradise!
daily ponder ... be the reason someone smiles today!

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riverprincessModerator
Moderator

Reged: 12/25/11
Posts: 1725
Loc: Jersey Shore
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275319 - 02/08/14 12:19 PM

Your doing find. I've been on Atripla since it came out. And that doesn't cout all the previous years of my 20 years on meds. You don't have to drive yourself nuts with setting alarm clocks so that you take it the exact time every day. My gosh your going to drive yourself nuts. lol My Vl has been undectable for .....geeze, I'll estamate 15 years now. I just take it before bed . nd that is anywhere from 9 to 110 pm. Relacx sweetie , your doing well.

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heart
Moderator

Reged: 09/01/12
Posts: 41
Loc: united states
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275323 - 02/08/14 01:27 PM

Looks like the Atripla is doing well for you. Riverprincess and Anotherday have great advice about your concerns on missing meds. If it continues to give you a little anxiety you could keep( a couple of pills in a locked box in your vehicle) and then if you forget you can grab that pill. I wouldn't be to concerned about the two or three hours though. I just noticed that keeping an extra pills back in the vehicle(in a locked bottle) provided a alittle security for us.
The numbers look great for a 9month window...We reduced the amount of dreams by not eating food with "fats" in it at least two hours before taking the med at bedtime. It's ok to have a light snack; but it's just our personal experience to eat light before bed. Of course, like you said..dreams are not bad. The Atripla has really caused no side-effects since for one year.

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Picard239
Newbie

Reged: 02/08/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275333 - 02/09/14 05:14 AM

Thanks, I appreciate the reply. When I first started treatment I was with a PA! Not a MD, but he was a specialist for HIV, I really liked him, I threw a bunch of questions at him and he took the time to answer each of them, he is the one who recommended this site. Sadly, he has since moved on to better things I guess and now I Have a MD who is also a specialist however he is not very well known, he is a little hard to understand but I will give it some time and I will give him a chance. Communications is a big concern. It is very important. Thanks for the quick reply.

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Picard239
Newbie

Reged: 02/08/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275334 - 02/09/14 05:17 AM

Lol, I was thinking the same thing, the only time I remember I have HIV is when I take my Meds, well mostly anyway, it is a wake up call for me. But then I think that hey this pill is keeping me alive, I thank god that I have good insurance that pays 100 % the cost and I am thankful.

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Picard239
Newbie

Reged: 02/08/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275335 - 02/09/14 05:24 AM

It's funny you say that because when I first started I took a pill and put it in a medicine bottle in my car, I figured if I had to stay late or had a need for one it was there. The only problem is that I read that extreme heat a vehicle will destroy the benefits of the med. I had it with me, I just figured it was better to take a fresh pill when I got home. I know that they want you to take the med every day at the same time, some docs say the same part of the day, morning noon or night and that a few hours will not hurt, I will continue to strive to take it at 7:30 PM, however will not freak out just because I am a few hours late a few times a year. Thanks for your reply.

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heart
Moderator

Reged: 09/01/12
Posts: 41
Loc: united states
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275340 - 02/09/14 11:07 AM

good point; I guess location and increased temps in a car is something to think about. I think you are going to be fine! Riverprincess has excellent experience; sometimes actual experience is a great educator. Enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer you and share your success with Atripla. Stay strong!

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iam1
Fanatic

Reged: 06/17/09
Posts: 160
Loc: Georgia
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275405 - 02/13/14 02:37 AM

I'm going to answer your question and try to not scare you too badly. I'm like Riverprincess - I've got years of experience with HIV meds. Atripla in particular.

Won't go into details. Just know that when I first started taking meds I was on 3 then had a 4th added. Took varioius meds 5 times a day starting at 7:00am and finishing at 11:00pm. My doctor saw that Atripla had done well in clinical trials and switched me over to Sustiva and Truvada (the meds in Atripla) several months before Atripla came out. Just to ease my pill burden. He figured if I was taking all the other pills on time all day long I could remember to take 1 pill once a day.

I've missed fewer than 10 doses for various reasons over the years. NEVER because I just don't feel like taking my meds. I love that they exist and take them every time I can!

The reason Atripla is recommended for night time is because the Sustiva in it can cause many people to become light headed and/or dizzy. If you're in bed there's less chance you'll accidentally hurt yourself. Only problem being Sustiva can also give a person vivid sometimes scary dreams.

I started out taking my Atripla late night before I went to bed. I've only ever had one dream I could remember. Then I went back to work. Night shift, so instead of going to bed at 11:00pm or midnight I was in the middle of a long night at work. So, I started taking my Atripla at 6:00am when I got home from work and was getting ready for bed. Thanks to numerous factors my job no longer exists. I've almost made the switch over to being a day person. But, since I was comfortable taking the Atripla at 6:00am I continue to take it at 6:00am. I get up every morning. Tell my roommate "Hello" (He's up having coffee.) and take my Atripla. Then I usually go back to bed for an hour or two.

The Sustiva is like just about any other medication you'll take - it has side effects. But, you get over the side effects.

Most people take their Atripla at night, because that's what is recommended. But, there is no line drawn in the sand sayig you have to take it at a certain time during the day. Most people take it then, because they don't want to try functioning in the world with their head in the clouds.

What I am about to tell you is something many people need to know but shouldn't know unless they are compliant with their medication schedule --- It isn't going to kill you if you miss an dose by a few hours. NOT miss taking it completely. And, NOT miss several doses by a few hours every week. But, for those who take their meds on time more than 95% of the time taking a dose a couple hours late isn't going to change anything. DON'T make a habit of it!

Think of the anti-HIV meds as the race cars. Think of your body as the race track. The cars get on the track and run the route making circles killing HIV along the way. When the car starts to run out of gas and slow down it's time for the next car to enter the race. You take your next dose of medications. The cars overlap a little, so there's always at least one car of each color (different med) on the track. What doctors don't tell you because they want you to make it a habit of taking the meds regularly is that the cars come with a spare gas tank. It helps them to keep going an extra lap or two. This is the meds staying active in the body longer than the 8/12/24 hours between doses. BUT, and this is a big "but", when the cars (meds) are taking that extra lap it's slowing down, so the other racers (the HIV) are catching up to and possibly passing the med car. You've got to keep putting the fresh car into the race. You've got to keep taking your meds to keep the race going to try to win. To try to beat HIV.

I know my description can be about as clear as mud, but sit down and think about it. Don't try to over-think it. It's generally easier for people to understand who don't have HIV. They aren't thinking about how the cars work. What type of gas they run on. How they run the race together.

Cut yourself some slack. Yes, it's important to take your meds at the same time everyday. But, if for some reason you miss a dose by a couple hours your skin isn't going to rot and fall off. You won't start loosing arms and legs. Dr. Frankenstein won't have to attach your head to your neck with a couple of bolts.

BUT (another big but), if you miss too many doses the HIV in your body can mutate and become nonreactive to the meds you're taking. Chances are it will eventually anyway in 10-15 years. Don't give it any help.

In the meantime don't forget to live. You had a life before HIV. Don't let HIV take away your life. Those of us who have been living with the virus for more than 20 years survive, because we continue to live.

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Picard239
Newbie

Reged: 02/08/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Florida
Re: Atripla users - please help a newbie new
      #275412 - 02/13/14 08:24 AM

Actually your description makes perfect sense and thanks for the time you took to post it. I always considered the fact that the doctors are telling me to take it as close to the same time was in fact an attempt to keep me compliant, I just could not get enough facts on what the half life was of atripla, I always strive for the same time each night, but I am only human and when I slip, I just don't want to freak out. I will not freak out anymore, I will keep trying to take it at the same time, that will always be my goal, but when being human takes over, I will relax and just take it ASAP. I have come to trust the information I get on this site. I appreciate your time, thanks.

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