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Author Topic: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds  (Read 2713 times)

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Offline Phoenius10

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Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« on: April 08, 2010, 04:23:40 AM »
I was just infected with HIV and thought I'd share my experience so far.

In the middle of March I developed a bad fever, nightsweats, and red rash spots. I've been through a few HIV scares before so at first I wasn't too worried, but this quickly became bothersome since I knew I had been with a risky guy a week before and how bad the symptoms got so fast. But it wasn't until I felt a swollen glad that I was convinced I had become HIV infected and started to panic.  I finally made it to the doc a few days later when my symptoms were starting to go away.  In fact I didn't even need to go to the doc since taking Excredin was effective enough in keeping the fever down.  The only reason I went was because of the HIV concern, and I wanted to confirm it, one way or another.

When I got to the doctors office, I explained the symptoms to them and of course they naturally thought I had the flu or mono.  But I also told them it was likely HIV, and that it would probably not show up on a regular test being so soon after exposure (11 days had passed).  So I insisted on an HIV viral load test instead, but it wasn't until after all other tests came back negative that they agreed to do that.  I had to get blood drawn a second time for this.

Later that week, it was confirmed, I had HIV by PCR RNA, viral load 7+ million. =(  I was referred to the Infectious Disease doc the following week.  After coming to the realization that I'll likely have to live with this for the rest of my life, I decided to read up on it as much as I could online. It basically came down to a choice of when to start meds for it. Should I start now or wait to see how my counts do?  That was the question.  From what I could determine, it looks like federal guidelines are moving in the direction of treatment sooner, IE higher CD4 counts, as drug regimens become easier to take with less side effects.  Gone are the days when someone has to take pills many times a day, toxic side effects that can be worse than the virus, etc.  What I found is that they now know which drugs cause the most serious side effects and try to avoid using them.  Many drugs have been combined in single pills.  There were even studies done that show the sooner one goes on meds, the higher the chances they will still be alive after so many years, etc.  The bad thing about holding off on meds is that it gives the virus a chance to damage the body more, eat away at your immune system, embed itself deeper into your latent cells, etc.  The only real argument for not taking meds now is that one can become resistant very easily if they are not kept up.

When I went back to the doctor's office, I felt I knew as much as he did on the topic, but he explained basically everything I had learned already.  All we had to go on was that one viral load test showing that I was 7mil+, but we both knew that was when I was in seroconversion.  He did say that if I chose to start meds right away that some studies have shown that Cd4/VL setpoints might not be as good as if I wait to let my immune system adjust first.  But knowing I could keep up with taking pills on a daily basis, I chose to start immediately.  So hopefully we'll never have to see the day when I adjust to a setpoint.

I know choosing when to start meds is a very individual decision.  Like if I had found out a year or two after seroconversion and had very good numbers, I might not have chosen to start, since the initial damage had already been done.  Also, anyone who doesn't think they can keep up with taking pills each day should definitely wait as long as possible, because it is very important to keep up to prevent resistance!!

But in my case, I wish I could have even started sooner.  My first Atripla was taken about 3 weeks after exposure.  I feel if I had started sooner, even less damage could have been done to my body.  Whenever a cure is found, it will likely be based on flushing out your latent infected bone marrow cells..  and who knows, those who had the virus active in their body for the least number of days could have better results with this.  Had I not started and was living years with a low VL, I'd know my body was still constantly fighting the battle of its life trying to keep the virus in check, slowly eating away at the foundation of my immune system.  Cure found or not, that can't be good.  And who knows what else the actual virus is doing while breeding.  Like right now, I'm still seeing increased spots in my vision, which I hope eventually go away with the virus.

There is one other advantage to being on meds to get your VL down to as low as possible which I have not mentioned.  Studies have shown that risk of infecting others go down with a lower VL.  So condom or not, having a undetectable VL is always a good thing in minimizing the chance of infecting anyone else.

So I think I made the right decision in the end.

I hope I'm not found to be resistant to anything in Atripla or have any other infections like hep b or c.  That would complicate things even more.  The doc took about 20 tubes of blood out of me.  It should be interesting to see what those results are the next time I go back.

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 05:47:04 AM »
Welcome to the forums.

Sorry you're here but glad you found us all the same.

MtD

Offline tokyodecadence

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 07:26:36 AM »
While this sucks, it's good that you've chosen to become well informed about what you're dealing with. It helped me a lot a as well.
[.Fodão.]

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2010, 09:52:07 AM »
I must say kudos to you for educating yourself about this disease early, it may have saved you from lots of other stuff.  Please mention the spots in your eyes to the doctor, as this can be a first sign of Cytomeglovirus, or CMV, which can cause very rapid blindness, or at the least, a permanent damage to your eyesight.  Stay in touch.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline kev72

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2010, 10:04:28 AM »
Wow, while a diagnosis like this can be devastating, you seem to have taken a great approach, educated yourself and made good decisions. Many people would be in a total fog right now. Very impressive.

I also recently tested positive and like you, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I took charge and researched everything that I could. I agree with you and based on the newest research, I would have started medication immediately if not for anything else, but to reduce the viral load in my system. When I read all of the posts on this site, I was glad that these meds are easy to handle. My feeling is the pros outweigh the cons. For me, the Atripla has been simple to adjust to and I hope it will continue to make me feel better. I hope the same goes for you.

Good luck man. Kev

Offline mecch

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  • red pill? or blue pill?
Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2010, 11:29:21 AM »
He did say that if I chose to start meds right away that some studies have shown that Cd4/VL setpoints might not be as good as if I wait to let my immune system adjust first. 

I never heard of that.  I thought once you loose specified tcells they are gone forever.  When you get an immunity rebound after seroconversion, I thought the remaining tcells multiply to make up for the ones lost forever.

It was explained as such, in this metaphor.
If you have an existing immunity of A-Z
A, B, C, D, etc.
Hiv seroconversion and HIV infection can eliminate forever some of the letters.  You are left with A, C, D, G, etc.
Then your body starts to multiply so you have A A C C D D G G to make up for the missing immunity.

I wish I had started HAART immediately when I had the first symptoms.  Not a few months later. Well, time will tell.

Good luck to you and welcome to the forum.
“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline BrotherDavid

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2010, 02:38:44 PM »
All my best to you Phoenius, I too started meds as soon as I tested positive. Just a preference, but I wanted the Virus out of my system. I am not sure what my CD4 was prior to testing, but my Lymphs and White count was always on the low side for many years. The Atripla has already began to work wonders on the VL and the CD4s are increasing. Just the piece of mind helps me, regardless of what the CDC or anyone else says. Good luck, David

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 06:19:54 PM »
I believe there are some studies aimed at eradicating HIV reservoirs that would be looking for individuals such as yourself, people who started meds very soon after seroconversion and who have been infected for less than one year.

One way to find them might be to search for "HIV eradication" or "HIV reservoir eradication" at:

http://clinicaltrials.gov/
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 06:22:46 PM by Inchlingblue »

Offline jkinatl2

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  • Doo. Dah. Dipp-ity.
Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2010, 01:20:04 AM »
You claim you were infected through saliva. I reject that claim. Until you are ready to discuss your actual risks, and the actual life that you lead, then no one in this forum could possibly offer you relevant advice or counsel.

I urge you to rethink your experiences, and offer this supportive forum the information needed to fully support your decisions.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Phoenius10

  • Member
  • Posts: 29
Re: Why I Chose to Immediately Start on Meds
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2010, 09:43:26 PM »
You claim you were infected through saliva. I reject that claim. Until you are ready to discuss your actual risks, and the actual life that you lead, then no one in this forum could possibly offer you relevant advice or counsel.

I urge you to rethink your experiences, and offer this supportive forum the information needed to fully support your decisions.



I only said it could likely have been through saliva.  No one can know for certain.
But the guy I was with a week before seroconversion was the only known pos guy I had been with in the last 6 months.  And if it was him, it was likely saliva as the guy didn't get off and didn't even precum until the very end when his cock was nowhere near me.  If I eventually find out any of the hotties I had been with before him was pos, I'll certainly post the updated information, as it would change my opinions.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 09:45:27 PM by Phoenius10 »

 


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