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Personal Story

When Starting HIV Treatment Is a Turning Point

Part of the Series My First Pill

June 25, 2014

Ron Carpenter

Ron Carpenter

My first pill was Atripla [efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC] and I took it Feb. 18, 2008. Still afraid of what it meant to start treating my HIV, I had no choice but to do so as I had a raging hepatitis B coinfection with a viral load of over a billion. It was a huge moment in my life, a turning point. I wrote this poem on that day:

A Turning Point

By Ron Carpenter

I hold in my hand a pill,
the first weapon against HIV,
I have found the strength to wield,
and accept what effects may be.
I hold in my hand a pill,
one that if not for insurance,
would have cost me fifty-seven,
half my take-home from labors current.
I hold in my hand a pill,
I must take every day,
for the remainder of my life,
or 'til there's a better way.
I hold in my hand a pill,
that will probably make me sick,
but by comparison to what would be,
is well worth its starting kick.
I take from my hand this pill,
and place it on my tongue,
as memories flood my thoughts,
of my innocence when I was young.
I take into my body this pill,
ceasing my fearful flight,
whispering a humble prayer,
to help me turn and fight.

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.


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