Making a decision about when to start anti-HIV therapy and what drugs to take can be a challenge. There's no one right answer about when to start or what therapies to use, but there are answers that are right for you. As you embark on this decision, think about your needs, as well as the medical facts, and how starting therapy -- or even waiting -- fits into your life. Take time to look at both the risks and the benefits of starting therapy as well as waiting to start.
There are many tools that can help you in making an informed decision about treatment. The federal guidelines for the use of anti-HIV therapy are one of these tools. The federal guidelines are just what they say, a guide. They provide information, recommendations and suggestions on when to start treatment. They also outline the risks and benefits of treatment, what drugs to start with and options for changing therapy. The guidelines are not a "one size fits all" solution, but rather a tool to assist you in making decisions.
In this issue of WISE Words is a summary of the federal guidelines. Keep in mind that they are periodically reviewed and revised. You can access the most current guidelines at www.hivatis.org/trtgdlns.html.
In the following pages you'll find discussion points to consider, if you're thinking about using anti-HIV therapy for the first time, to help you decide -- for yourself -- if starting therapy is right for you. You'll also find information on ways you can promote your own health. These are things you might consider exploring now, whether or not you decide to use therapy. Learning about anti-HIV therapy, the risks and benefits of starting now or waiting, and further developing for yourself your own decision-making process is central to making an informed decision.
Remember, this is your decision -- take your time to make it.