Your Body on HIV Drugs
The medications that have so dramatically improved the course of HIV disease over the past decade can also have a negative impact on people's quality of life. Anyone facing the decision of whether to start antiretroviral therapy has to weigh the potential benefits and risks. On a large scale, the benefits of treatment far outweigh the risks -- fewer opportunistic infections and lower death rates. But for each individual, the picture is not so black and white. And the message must be clear to those who are HIV-negative: while treatment works, being on these drugs can be a challenge. This issue of ACRIA Update presents this reality in clear relief, focusing primarily on the body-shape changes that many people experience.
The individuals with HIV who share their personal stories in this issue paint vivid pictures of the challenges of watching the strange and surprising changes in their bodies. Our other contributors discuss the psychological impact of body-shape changes, possible treatments, and data from a study of the side effects people experience and the ways they live with them.
Some people may consider body-shape changes a small price to pay for an extended life, but anyone who has lived with the condition themselves or seen a loved one experience it knows that it is much more than simply a cosmetic irritation. Hopefully, for people who don't appreciate the challenge of living with side effects, this issue of ACRIA Update will increase awareness of what life on HIV treatment can be like, and will validate the experiences of people affected by the drugs' side effects.
This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. It is a part of the publication ACRIA Update. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.