You've made the commitment to begin treatment and settled on your first HIV medication regimen. To ensure that your meds keep working, you'll need to take your doses on time, every time. But there may be challenges waiting to trip you up, including:
"HIV made me challenge my faith to a point where I had no option but to believe that anything was possible, if I wanted to live."
- Side effects
- Depression, drug addiction or other personal problems
- Forgetting to refill your prescription
- Illnesses or injuries
- Family emergencies or travel
- Getting tired of taking meds every day
Whatever the reason, and however hard it may be to talk about it, it's extremely important to bring up the problem with your HIV specialist or case manager before the problem interferes with your med schedule.
Take side effects, for instance. Keith Green's story is a perfect example of what not to do when side effects strike. Keith started taking HIV treatment at the age of 18, but the meds left him feeling drained and exhausted, so he stopped taking them -- without telling his doctor. That's when his CD4 count dropped to only 30.
"I believed that somehow God would spare me," Keith says, "but then I got sick. I started to realize that this was serious and I had to do something or I was going to die." He talked to his doctor, who suggested a new treatment regimen with fewer side effects.
Keith got better and has been on HIV treatment ever since. In 2009, he earned a master's degree in social work. He's currently a project director for two HIV prevention research studies in Chicago.