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Getting to Undetectable: People Living With HIV Share Their Stories

April 12, 2013

 11/11 

Shannon Southall

Shannon Southall

Denver, Colo.; Diagnosed in 1992

February 1996, four years after being given my HIV diagnosis, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, and hearing that I now have AIDS. My CD4 count was 131. I needed to add more medication. When I was initially diagnosed in 1992, I had 896 CD4 and my first doctor put me on AZT monotherapy. After a friend found an infectious disease specialist I was switched to Zerit and Epivir.

Now lying in the hospital my doctor came in and said there was this new drug available called Crixivan and he strongly recommended that I add this to my current regime. My viral load was 159,000 and these new meds show that they can reduce the virus in my system, therefore prolonging my life. So of course I said yes. By August, my viral load was undetectable, less than 200, and my CD4 count was finally up over 200. ...

A few years ago I started to wonder about switching or stopping meds for a while. Then I met the man who would become my husband. He is HIV negative and I know that keeping my viral load down is crucial to maintaining a healthy sex life and reducing the risk of transmission to him.

Read Shannon's full story of 21 years on HIV meds.






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