Advice on Starting HIV Treatment From People Who've Been There
Starting HIV meds -- or thinking about taking this step? We reached out to a group of those most in the know about the intricacies of starting treatment -- HIV-positive people who've made the decision to start themselves -- and asked: If you could go back in time to the moment before you started HIV treatment, what advice would you give yourself?
Comment by: Mark
Fri., Dec. 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm EST
I began treatment in 1997. I was lucky. Sustiva (efavirenz) had become available the year before. So I was started on Sustiva, Zerit, and Epivir. The first night I had horrible dreams and felt really weird. I was told of this and also told to contact the clinic if I felt I couldn't cope with the side effects. They would help me get through it as usually the side effects would lesson in a few weeks. Fortunately they did except for the neuropathy caused by Zerit. My viral load rapidly became undetectable and my CD4 counts started rising. When Atripla came out, I was switched to it once a day. Thank God, I could quit Zerit. The neuropathy is better but still present, whether from the Zerit, HIV or age, I don't know. My advice for anyone just beginning is to commit yourself to taking your medications faithfully every single day and never, ever miss. There is no excuse! Sources are available for everyone to get meds. Set your meds out in daily pill containers for at least a week at a time---I do 2 weeks now. It is tempting to be complacent and not do it. But just do it and forget it for the next week or two. And remember there was a time not so long ago when people had to take fists full of meds every few hours that had horrible side effects that did little if anything to prolong their life. But it was all there was.
So be grateful. Get help getting though the side effects if possible. Take your meds.
Comment by: Chey
Thu., Sep. 8, 2011 at 12:39 am EDT
I never fooled around or injected drugs. I got HIV because I was stupid and went to a tatto home party and got a tattoo. 2 months later i went to donate blood and then got a call they needed to see me. That was Dec07. 6 months after being on meds i am undetectible. Cd4 count is 1100. I found the love of my life 4 yrs ago and have been married 2. After our first date I told him and the good christian man that he is, he still dated me and married me. I have never been married before and thought I was going to die alone but not now!
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