Steven Berveling, Sydney, Australia; Diagnosed in 1996
I started HIV medication in May 1996, on the day that I was seroconverting. I was in hospital. So I never lived with HIV without the medications. But on that fateful day, the medical staff sought to delay medication "to give me a chance to get used to being HIV positive." I responded: "I'm used to it, now get me the meds."
I was aware of the possibility of side effects from the medication, but I knew of a definite side effect of HIV if one did not take the meds: death. So any side effects from the meds seemed a good alternative! But I was unaware of the exact extent of the side effects, and was glad when they subsided.
Since then, knowledge about HIV and the medications has improved enormously. We know much more about the impact of the medications. We also know that a range of meds is now available, thereby reducing the impact of side effects.
So, going back in time to the moment before I started HIV treatment, but with the increased knowledge available today, I would give myself the following advice:
I can live a full and complete life despite HIV thanks to the medications and their range. Don't let concerns about side effects stop you from taking the medications!