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Seven Considerations When Starting HIV Medications

October 23, 2015


5. Fight Shame and Stigma

5. Fight Shame and Stigma

While we have made tremendous progress fighting HIV-related stigma, it continues to impact anyone living with the virus. I have had clients who skipped their evening dose of medications because they were at a business conference and constantly around colleagues. Another refused to take his medications on weekends when he had custody of his children for fear they would ask about his pill bottles. Yet another refused meds all together because she lived with her mother and hadn't disclosed her status. In each case, stigma from external sources and internal shame about HIV impacted medication adherence. It is important for people starting meds to prepare themselves to experience stigma and work with their support system and health care providers to eradicate any shame they feel that affects their own sense of worthiness.

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See Also
HIV Medications: When to Start and What to Take -- A Guide From
More on When to Begin HIV Treatment

Reader Comments:

Comment by: ScotCharles (Los Angeles) Mon., Sep. 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm EDT
What a bunch of blowing smoke up your ass crap. I don't know how long you've been on meds; but, the longer you take them the worse the side effects are. After a while, you quit taking one drug because the side effects become unbearable only to begin another whose side effects after years become unbearable. I know your article is about beginnings; but, you should include that meds are a decades long proposition with severe long term consequences. I've been on meds 21 years, HIV+ 31 years and have had full blown AIDS
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Comment by: Ed (NY) Mon., Jul. 14, 2014 at 5:30 pm EDT
i would like to make it clear that taking Truvada was explained by my HIV MD as the benefits outway the risks. in any event i found myself in stg #5 ESRD in sep 2014. quite the surprise after being pos for over 26yrs. i am presently on hemodialysis 3x/wk and am on cleve clinic's "waiting list". My local county hosp will not list me stating "lung Disease". it is of my opinion that they infrequently do HIV pt. listings, but they fall back on the "lung" issue inspite of getting 2 letters from pulmonologists saying i was at low risk and of course i could always apply elsewhere. the vice pres of Pt. Advocacy is also the risk mgt and come to find out she is one of the hosp atty's. a def conflict of interest. can anyone help me to challenge them? there stats indicate a low % of HIV pt's being listed. any help would be appreciated. ty
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Comment by: Celestina (Nigeria) Wed., Nov. 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm EST
Cd4 drops no sign of sickness at all,the last i did the test it was 605 but now 517 why is it so,does it mean my body is forming resistance to the drugs or what?
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Comment by: Geraldine (Nigeria) Wed., Nov. 6, 2013 at 4:58 am EST
Hiv is going round in Nigeria , somone u know got HIV at the age of 14 years and he doesnt know how he got it but he has vowed to share it as much as he can because he is angry that he got it and cant explian how.AHF should please focus on Nigeria before his likes will share it everywhere. Serious advocacy testing etc is required please
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Comment by: Ditto Thu., Oct. 24, 2013 at 11:25 pm EDT
Always astonishing to me how when it comes to PrEP, all concerns are brushed aside. If you have the misfortune to actually seroconvert, the conversation changes. We start hearing "Whoah, hold your horses. Are you sure you're not a drug addict? Do you really think you're prepared to take one, maybe three pills EVER DAY? Is anybody checking to make sure you're really taking your pills? We think you can stand to be a little sicker, so maybe you should wait". Maybe newly diagnosed would do better to tell their providers that they're negative and can't be bothered to wear a rubber to save their life. "I need this to live" just doesn't seem to hold any sway with the medical community these days. Or is it that having the misfortune to produce antibodies fundamentally alters out view of what people are capable of?
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Comment by: steve (San Diego) Wed., Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm EDT
Wow! Kind of sensationalized scaremongering there dude! I was diagnosed 1/13 CDC staging C2, started Stribild 2/13. The first week on meds was hell, linear progression to no big deal by week 4. 2 log fall in 30 days, 5 months to undetectable. Cd 4 normal range now >500 and 30% and improving. All in all no f*ucking deal, no side effects. Take my pill every morning (100% cART complaint is the key!) and give it a kiss and blessing for making my life 100% normal again :) Stop perpetuating the stigma please and lets just get on with living our wonderful but all too short lives :)
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: joe Sat., Nov. 23, 2013 at 4:33 pm EST
Thanks for your up lifting advice

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