Why Am I Not Dead From HIV/AIDS Yet? (Editor's Pick)

Question

Hello, I am a bit apprehensive in writing to you but I have a question and I hope to perhaps bring a bit of hope to long term survivors of being HIV+. I am a private person, I don't date much I don't have sexual relations much - 2 to 3 times a year, I keep to myself when it comes to health care, doctors, etc. (I'll go for a check up every 2 - 3 years) and like to be mostly on my own. I was diognosed as HIV+ in 1996. I was immediately proscribed Combivir and Crixivan. I took this combination of drugs continually from 1996 until 2000 until I decided that my quality of life (sickness, vomiting, continual horrible side effects) I just couldn't take it no more. I stopped taking the drugs and stopped seeing my HIV specialist in 2001. I thought for sure I would die within 5 years. But I am 49 years old now, I am in awesome shape (diet, excersise, etc) and am wondering... why haven't I died yet?

Answer

I am glad you are alive today even without taking HIV medications since 2001.

Some people's HIV infection progresses more slowly than others. Also, even advanced HIV infection sometimes does not show symptoms until late into the disease.

Since you seem not to know your CD4 cells and viral load right now, it is difficult to know if you are a slow progressor or someone with low CD4 cells that is not showing symptoms yet.

I am sure that Combivir and Crixivan left a really bad impression on you (I do not blame you since they are both no longer used due to toxicity). But I am sure you know that the new HIV meds do not have as many problems as these old drugs.

I highly recommend that you go see a HIV doctor to get your immune system evaluated and discuss starting treatment again.

I am not sure if you need for privacy and isolation is your nature or if it is driven by depression. If it is the later, I would also talk to your doctor about it.

I am glad to reached out to me and hope to hear from you again soon.

Wishing you the best,

Nelson