How toxic are the hiv medication?

Question

I'm 21 years old and I was diagnosed a few weeks ago. My doctor prescribed me a one pill a day drug called Genvoya. I hear that someone my age can live a full life, but I just don't see how. I unsteady that these drugs save our lives, but for how long before they kill us? Aren't these drugs still suppose to be toxic? Does taking these drugs everyday slowly kills us and posions our bodies? I just don't see how 50 years on everyday regimens can't be fatal. How long how people been on these drugs and how healthy are they?

Also, what can I do to eliminate some of the toxins caused by the drugs?

Answer

Hello and thanks for posting.

Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. Your doctor has done you well by starting you on an effective and guideline-recommended treatment soon after you became aware of your status. This is recommended, and has been shown to improve staying in care, improve adherence and lower risks of medical complications. Indeed, in some clinics, people living with HIV are starting on treatment the same day that they are diagnosed.

People living with HIV, especially those who are diagnosed and start treatment while healthy can live fully (as your doctor puts it), with high quality of life; few, if any medication side effects and on average, near-normal life expectancy. This actually implies that many people living with HIV will live longer than average.

Today's modern HIV medications, like Genvoya and others, if properly selected and monitored periodically (as is recommended) are rarely toxic, and should never be the cause of death. I have patients who have been successfully taking HIV meds since 1996.

Taking HIV medications daily doesn't increase the risk of death, it actually lowers it- even among people who are asymptomatic and have normal CD4 cell counts. The
START clinical trial showed this and more- that starting treatments actually also lowers the risk of cancer and tuberculosis too; and this effect was observed in men, women, people living in rich or poor countries.

As for staying healthy- it's key to stay engaged in your health care with regular follow up appointments and lab monitoring. It's important to look at other health risks; for example: taking care of one's mental health; getting cured of hepatitis C virus infection; reducing, and preferably quitting tobacco; getting routine exercise and eating a prudent diet.

I hope that this is helpful, BY