Starting Antiretrovirals Wasn't an Option

Part of the Series My First Pill

Aaron Laxton
Aaron Laxton

Starting on ARVs [antiretrovirals] wasn't an option. From all the research I had done, I knew that the quicker that I started medications, the better chance I would have to remain healthy. I was diagnosed on June 6, 2011, and almost a month later I started on Atripla [efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC]. I remember that I was still trying to wrap my head around the diagnosis while comforting others.

Luckily, I had a great advocate and friend, Michael McGovern, who calmed me down and explained everything. He worked with me to get me enrolled into a 52-week study. At the time, I was unemployed with no health insurance. The first few weeks on Atripla was met with a rash that fully engulfed my body, however, that left as quickly as it came. The remainder of my time on Atripla (two years), I mainly would have upset stomach depending on the fat content of the meal the night before and extremely vivid dreams. Atripla helped me become undetectable within four months post diagnosis and it kept me healthy for the duration of the time I was on it. I have since changed over to Stribild [elvitegravir/cobicistat/FTC/tenofovir] due to the sleep interruption/vivid dreams that Atripla caused me.

What was your first pill? Whether it was AZT or Atripla, we want you to tell your story! Write out your story (between 200 and 1,000 words, please!) or film a YouTube video, and email it to We'll be posting readers' My First Pill stories here in our Resource Center on Starting HIV Treatment.

Read other stories in this series.