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Being Honest Even When You're Scared and Complera Update

A Video Blog

By Justin B. Terry-Smith

December 21, 2011

I've been on Complera for about three months now. It has gotten better for me. I don't know why my viral load shot up and my T cells when down a little before I started this new treatment. When you are public about what you have you tend to not be public about when you are scared or when it doesn't seem like it is going to get any better. I've not been telling everyone that my VL shot up and my T cells went down again. I was scared and all I can say is that I'm only human. I'm human and I do make mistakes. I don't want to feel like I've not been honest, nor do I feel like I should be chastised for not telling all, all the time. But I have to be honest.

Right before I started Complera my viral load was 1,207. I thought I was undetectable and I wasn't. My viral load shot up from 0 to 1,207 and my T-cell count was 363. I was shocked and shaken. Then I get e-mails and texts from friends saying that their T-cell counts are in the 1000 and they are undetectable. It is a little discouraging, trust me. But I don't let it discourage me from doing what I need to do to survive.

Now, after about 3 months of being on Complera, my viral load is now 763 (DOWN FROM 1,207) and my T-cell count is 380 (UP FROM 363). My doctor is keeping a close eye on me and he wants me to do better. I have been stressed out so much that it is really taking a huge toll on my skin. My rosacea is out of control and I'm a little scared. I just wish I had that complexion that I had before HIV, but alas, that isn't happening anytime soon. So, I've decided that it is time for a change and I need to start with the food I put in my body and start exercising more and more.

BreakfastHam, Egg & Cheese SandwichOatmeal & 2 Strawberry Yogurts
LunchNoodlesBLT Sub Sandwich (Sometimes w/o Bacon)
DinnerFast FoodFish, Rice, Veggies (Protein)
Supplements Centrum
Fish Oil (2 Pills)
Vitamin D (2 Pills)

I will have an exercise regime ready when I know what I can do and when I can do it, but I will try to start yoga again on Saturdays.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts Concerning HIV Treatment

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Warren (Georgia) Wed., Jan. 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm EST
I'd like to know more about this case as I have an appointment next week with my doctor and I'm interested in switching from Prezista, Norvir and Truvada to Complera.
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Comment by: PIT (Thailand) Thu., Jan. 5, 2012 at 11:10 am EST
May I ask, what medication regimen had you been on when your viral load suddenly went up? How long ago was you last undetectable viral load, and what was your T-cell count? Were there any physical indications something was wrong, or did they just pick it up in a routine screening? Also, after your VL went up over 1000, did they genotype and sensitivity test your virus before switching your meds?

I'm sorry if my questions bother you, but I'm just trying to understand everything in case this happens to me or someone else out there. I've been on Atripla almost one year and have great numbers. I never miss a dose and take it at the same time every evening, but I am always a little scared that the bubble could burst, and then what? I'm sure it's something we all know can happen at any point....

Thank you for being honest about what is happening. We all need to hear what is really happening with each other so that we can all pull through together when times get rough. You have my prayers. Please keep us posted.
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Comment by: Anonymous Thu., Dec. 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm EST
Good for you! You can do it. praying for you!
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Justin B Terry-Smith (Laurel, MD) Wed., Jan. 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm EST
Thank you so much I appreciate the support. I have to stick to this. I fear my health will not be well if I do not. I have to be strong and keep my head up

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Justin's HIV Journal

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith

Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)

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