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Personal Story

'Possible' Side Effects With New HIV Treatment Are Just That -- Only a Possibility

Part of the Series My First Pill

May 6, 2014

Charles D. Klemm

Charles D. Klemm

Back in the "olden times" (1999) when I first started HIV meds, the first pill I took was Crixivan [indinavir]. People think pills these days have restrictions and side effects!

I talked with my doctor and with the nurses about taking this pill. Everybody wanted to ensure I would take it correctly. They all warned me about the possible effects of missing doses and taking it at wrong times or without enough water. I knew the medication had to be strong to combat HIV, but I was wondering if I'd be able to live my life or if I was destined to be bedridden. They had me take the pills in the clinic to show that they weren't going to be wasted. Other than the taste, which was an awful metallic taste, there was no problem.

I got the other pills that I'd be taking -- Zerit [stavudine, d4T] and Epivir [lamivudine, 3TC] -- and went home. Haven't looked back since!

I've learned that the "possible" side effects are just that -- not occurring in everybody. Thanks to the instruction I received beforehand, I never had any.

When I started taking meds, I was SICK. I knew the meds were my only hope of survival. Then, as now, I functioned without a death wish. I took my meds as prescribed no matter the inconvenience. I'm human. Over the years, I've missed doses. Generally, fewer than two a year. Now, I'm on Atripla [efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC]. People complain about "having" to take their pill. Let them go back to the days when there were no meds. Just hopeful wishes. And, closed-casket viewings at funeral homes.

What was your first pill? Whether it was AZT or Atripla, we want you to tell your story! Write out your story (between 200 and 1,000 words, please!) or film a YouTube video, and email it to We'll be posting readers' My First Pill stories here in our Resource Center on Starting HIV Treatment.

Read other stories in this series.

More From This Resource Center

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin HIV Treatment

Are Your HIV Meds Working? Warning Signs and False Alarms

Related Stories

My First Pill: Starting HIV Treatment for the First Time
More Personal Accounts Concerning HIV Treatment

This article was provided by TheBody.

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Scott (LosAngeles) Mon., Sep. 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm UTC
I want to share with everyone on meds. I have been at this since 1995. But the hardest years have been the last 6. I'm drug sensitive. And though I have had an exemplary health history. My experience with infectious disease physicians has been horrifying. They superscribe meds and ignore me when I have been displaying debilitating side effect symptoms. Shopping me to endless specialists ,as if what I'm experiencing is an anomaly. When I finally make the executive decision to stop the meds? I return to feeling well again. I have literally been almost killed by 3 doctors. Please be strong. And realize that self avocation may be a must in your search for health and healing. It seems to be more and more difficult to find quality doctors who understand what they are selling to us.
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Comment by: Daniel (Ethiopia) Wed., Aug. 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm UTC
I have been taking ART for the last seven years since my diagnosis. I started taking nevarapine and it was almost to kill me by its adverse side effects on my hands. The nurse later on changed my daily doses to the combinations lamivodine efavrinez and tenofovir taking two tabs per day. Very recently, the center started giving us one tablet per day dose of the drug. So unfortunately , some patches were being shown on the outer side of my hand and two opposite sides of my neck. I told the nurses by complaining about allergies. They boldly refused my complaints. I'm still with the itching patches on both of my hands and my neck. The sign started with taking the three in one drug. Is there any solution for my problems. Please say something.
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Comment by: Eileen Dover (Midwest) Thu., May. 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm UTC
AMEN MY BROTHER! I was lucky. When I was diagnosed in 1998 I entered in a study that required me to take handfuls of pills - some placebo, some real (turned out crixivan was the placebo) The new drug was Trizivir which I was fortunate enough to be get. I never missed a single dose (pills every 8 hours on an empty stomach) in the year-long study. I traveled the world without missing a dose every 8 hours regardless of the time zone I was in. I was transfered to another major city by my employer that was not a study site so I flew (at my expense) every month to LA to get the new pills, labs and see the a study Doctor. I want to slap the $hit out of people who bitch because they have to "remember" to be adherant and take a pill or two each day. I knew many who have been dead 25_ years who prayed, begged and literally marched in the streets for ANY pill. So to those who complain I say shut the fuk up, be grateful you have your life and mostly be thankful for all those before you who fought so you can have the luxury of living!
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Thaka (JHB, South Africa) Fri., May. 23, 2014 at 6:35 am UTC
big up to you comment, high 5....

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