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How would you rate your adherence?

100% - Never missed! (May even have doubled on occasion!)
12 (70.6%)
95 to 100% - Slipped up Here and There But Still On Track
5 (29.4%)
Less than 95% - Getting Problematic
0 (0%)
Developed Resistance to Meds
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 17

Author Topic: Success Story - Started Treatment at 300 CD4 and 100% Adherence  (Read 1137 times)

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Offline Fortitude

  • Member
  • Posts: 4
I just wanted to take a moment to share my story about living with HIV since 2005.

Just like you, I'd heard all of the arguments for and against starting treatment and I went with the right choice, which had been to start treatment once my CD4 dropped below 300.

Before ATRIPLA was approved by the FDA, I ran on a regimen of Sustiva & Epzicom and then switched over to ATRIPLA the week after it was approved. I believe that I made the right choice.

I've attached all of the labs I've received in the last 4 years of living with HIV as proof positive, if you will, that going on HAART and adhering 100 percent is the way to go in combating the disease.

I have to say that since being on this regimen, I've had no liver problems, no kidney problems, no sleeping problems, and my emotional health has been great.

When I first started, back in 2005, I did an SSRI for about 3 months to mitigate the effects of starting Sustiva (efavirenz) and I think that was a good idea. It took the spiky wave and squared it off. But, after my body and endocrine system adjusted to the drug, I decided that it was best to get off the SSRI, and that was a great choice, too. I think it's good as training wheels but not a permanent solution for mental health. It's best to taper off of it though and take about 2 or 3 days off work after your last dose (if it's Celexa or Lexipro) and go give yourself a mini vacation at the beach or something like that.

I also highly recommend getting the Gardasil vaccine, even if you're a man. It has been proven not only to prevent HPV but also treat existing cases. The highest mortality rate for HIV that I've seen is through people dying of cancer, not AIDS or HIV-related illnesses. It's expensive, at about $700, but it's probably the best cash you'll spend if you want preventative care.

Having HIV has required a major learning curve in how homosexual men respect you as a person. I've chosen to be completely out about my HIV status, on websites, with many of my co-workers, and with any sexual partners. It's not the easiest thing to do, but for every person who may turn me down sexually, there are 10 more who have a world of respect for me for being honest about my status.

As a matter of fact, you'd be surprised about the number of people who were scared of me 4 years ago but who have turned around and learned to unmask their own fears and deal with it.

In the same way that being out about sexuality has led to gains in equal rights across the country, being out about HIV is also a very powerful feeling and you gain a real sense of community from your peers, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.

I've had one person say something hateful, and my friends (basically, the village) put him in check and called him out for spreading rumor. Only his reputation was damaged, not mine.

Since starting treatment my CD4 percentage has climbed drastically, doubled actually from the low 20s now to an average of 39%. My CD4 count bottomed out at 248, which was far too low in my opinion, and now averages right around 500 to 600.

My viral load has been undetectable since starting treatment in the middle of 2005, only a few short months after testing positive for HIV. I had undergone a phenotype and genotype resistance assay and it was found that my particular strain, itself the HIV-1 B strain, was susceptible to ALL classes of drugs, from NNRTI to NRTI to PI.

The key to a successful regimen is adherence. I'm proud to say that in the last 4 years I have NEVER missed a dose. Not even one. I use a little weekly pill holder and I have a structure and routine that I follow, taking the drug at roughly 10:30 p.m. each night. I always have one backup in my wallet to use if I'm away from home.

I never hide when I'm taking my medicine. I take it out in the open, in front of whomever I'm with, and I move on. The less of an issue you make taking the medicine, the more it feels like a vitamin and less like a chronic drug.

Be a self-advocate with your doctors. They are smart, and they are experts, but they are also humans with the ability to judge things incorrectly. They are fallible people. Always remember that and always be a fierce self-advocate with your medical care. Get referrals to specialists if you need them, and never take no for an answer if you feel that your needs aren't being met.

Also, keep a healthy forward-looking outlook on your life. I plan for retirement. I have investments. I live my life as if I'll live at least until the age of 80. You should too. Don't short-sell your own life. Your mental outlook vastly shapes the decisions that you make and will have a huge effect on your medical outlook. Go to community college or a full university. Learn something. Have a goal and a purpose in life. Play an instrument or two. Draw, paint, photograph, develop hobbies that you love. Hike! I'm an avid hiker and I have three degrees. I went to college for 10 years. Trust me. It's worth keeping your mind active.

Run, weight lift, swim, and stay active. Eat well. Count your calories. Don't do hard drugs.

Medical marijuana? The occasional glass of wine? No big deal. But don't do anything to excess.

I've attached my labs and they are broken down as follows:

My graph from Detectable VL as high as 48000 to undetectable with the span of 30 - 45 days.
My graph on Sustiva / Epzicom regimen.
My graph of ATRIPLA regimen (current regimen) with a spike from taking prednisone (take note doctors...could be some interesting research there).
My graph of my ENTIRE course of HIV treatment and non-treatment.

I hope this helps inform some of you as to your decisions about the future and treating this disease.


[attachment deleted by admin]
« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 07:16:02 PM by Fortitude »

Offline antibody

  • Member
  • Posts: 525
  • "every man thinks his burden is the heaviest"
Re: Success Story - Started Treatment at 300 CD4 and 100% Adherence
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 10:46:12 PM »
congrats on your return to health. I too never missed a dose. My three year mark is 7/14/09. I too start with sustiva but made a switch to boosted reyataz and truvada. I was undectable by my first labs and my cd4 only went up. currently 1800 something (50%). thus far all my organs test fine. I have no problems taking my meds but I am glad I picked a once a day.
Timbuk      <50/ 794  CD4 10/06 
                 <50/ 1096 CD4 3/07
                 <40/ 1854 CD4 4/09

Started Atripla  7/14/06
Switched to boosted Reyataz Truvada 3/28/07

*Ask me about Medical Marijuana and how it can help you!*


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