I forgot what it's like to have a normal bowel movement

Question

This is a good news report that raises a question. I was diagnosed in 2003 after several weeks of dehydration due to uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting. My T-cells were under 300 and vl 100,000+ While the meds quickly started raising my cd4 and dropping the viral load, the diarrhea and stomach distress continued; but was more manageable. We had trouble getting my vl to undetectable. It took 9 months and a change in meds. Over the years the stomach distress continued despite years of experimenting with antidiarrheal meds, fiber, diet, Gastro Drs. and colonoscopies. Several drug combos failed and the viral load would climb and we'd try something new. I've been on Triumeq for the last few years. I was undetectable after starting the Triumeq, then the vl would rise; but slightly. I recently got my first undetectable results in nearly 18 months. We stuck with the Triumeq because the number would hover from 75 to 150 then back to 100. The first good news was the undetectable result. Then about 5 weeks ago, I started having NORMAL bowel movements. One morning it was just back to normal. I can't tell you what a life changer this is. I had been coping with it for so long that I didn't realize how I had changed my life in order to deal with the constant uncertainty. I didn't see how negatively it had affected by self confidence. I forgot how good it feels to fart when you need to :) I guess my question is WHY. We read about the virus lurking in reservoirs in the gut. Could that affect everything else that's going on it the gut? I guess that was a long story for that question. For nearly 15 years I've been reading and relying on TheBody. Thanks for providing a dependable place for us to learn.

Answer

Hello and thanks for posting your em, personal experiences.

It's great to hear that you're doing well- the resolution of chronic diarrhea must be life-changing for you, and speaks to the notion that today's HIV medications are definitely better than they were in the not too distant past.

Indeed, it's my opinion that providers should aim not only for viral suppression, but also aim for treatment without any appreciable side effects. The challenge is in creating humanistic health environments, free of stigma and discrimination, where people living living with HIV can receive that life-changing care.

Be well, BY