Maria T. Mejia, Miami, Fla.; Diagnosed in 1991
I've been HIV positive for 20 years; for the first 10 years I didn't take any HIV meds, and for the last 10 I've been on HIV medication. Not everyone should wait this long to get on meds, however. All bodies are different. After 10 years my CD4 count went down to a dangerous 39, and that's when I said "It's time."
If I could go back 20 years, I wouldn't change a thing! I really believe, and this is only my opinion, that not taking the high dosages of AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine) that were offered 20 years ago saved my life. ... For those newly diagnosed: Things are different now. You have more options. You shouldn't wait till your immune system is destroyed like mine was.
Take your meds when you and your doctor feel it's time for you to start, and live a healthy and positive lifestyle. Find a doctor you can communicate with and that listens to you. Be proactive with your illness and, most important, do your research! ... Don't minimize this illness. if you don't take care of yourself and do what you're supposed to do, you can get very ill and even die. All of this is preventable!
Read or watch Maria's story of starting HIV meds.