Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Questions About Treatment & Side Effects

Recently Started Treatment and Happy!

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Three and half years after testing positive, I made the decision to start meds.  While my CD4s were hovering above 350, my viral load was climbing.  But most importantly, I could tell the virus was doing a number on my body.  I needed naps every afternoon, and had frequent diarrhea.  Lost my sex drive, and was depressed.  I was getting sicker more often - little things but that had never been a problem before for me.  The guidelines say to start meds around 350, and my most recent labs actually had bounced up to 450+, but I just finally decided I was sick of it and ready to start.  Having an HIV- boyfriend also made me decide so I might be less likely to transmit to him (in the event of an accident).

I was very trepidacious about starting meds.  I had read all the side effects, and about the toxicity, etc.  Now, I'm really glad I started.  The only side effects I had were a rash I got all over my body, which took about 3 days to clear.  Also, I got headaches and dehydrated.  All that passed after 10 days or so, except I still need a lot of water!

I was prescribed Reyataz with a Norvir boost, Epivir and Viread.  5 pills once a day.  Started March 1, and never missed a dose.  Labs were as follows:

12/05:  CD4 459
          CD4% 29
          VL:  30,000 (but this had been bouncing as high as 95,000)

3/15/06:    CD4, CD4%:  (no count, the lab f*cked up)
           VL:  2200

5/23/06:  CD4:  581
              CD4%:  31
              VL:  85

I feel better and have more energy, more like my old self.  Less stressed out now that I know the meds are working.  I'm hopeful that my next labs will show undectable (although it's already close) and CD4% going up.

One reason I posted this is I seemed to get lucky, and have a badly replicating virus (75% capacity), and my system was fighting it off well enough that I really didn't have to start meds, according to the numbers.  But I really believe that just fighting the virus everyday takes a lot out of your system - it screws up your digestion, lowers your energy, and kills your sex drive (even though I had androgel).  So my decision to start was voluntary.  But I'm really glad I did now.  I suffer no side effects, and am starting to have decent workouts in the gym again (once in a while, but hey I gotta give my bod a chance).

I imagine there are no studies to talk about the damage to your body HIV does when you are infected but tcells are over 350 for an extended period of time.  So the guidelines just talk about starting once you're under a certain number.  They don't talk about how you feel, or what damage the HIV is doing to your body anyway even though you're still fighting it off reasonably well.

The reason for this post is there are a lot of people afraid to start meds.  Don't be.  At least speaking for my regimen, it's far better to be under treatment than not, once you start feeling it's getting to you.  We always hear horror stories, so this is one which (so far) has a happy ending!

Best of luck to all.


Hi There,

 Welcome ! Thanks for sharing. Starting the meds is a difficult decision to make, no doubt. I know it was difficult for me also, but once I started, I was glad I did. (didn't have much of a choice though !!)

Your numbers are improving nicely. Continued success...

The Best-----Ray 8)

Hey Robert,

Personally, I think you made a wise decision to begin meds. I know it isn't an easy decision, but you were at what my doc calls the threshold stage when things could begin getting worse and should be monitored more closely.

The time to strike is when you are still relatively healthy, not wait until you are sick with a severely compromised immune system. It is easier to preserve your health than to rebuild it.

It sounds like the regimen is working for you. Gosh, once a day sounds like a dream.

Hang in there and, as Ray say, continued success.



If you think it's time to start meds and your doctor agrees, then it's time. Everyone has to make that call (with their doctor's and the guidelines help) for themselves... Good luck! Your numbers are great!

Congrats on the very brave decision to start your meds! I agree with Aztecan, I think it is a great idea! I know it's not an easy decision to make, and you are to be commended for taking a pro-active step! You should really be proud of yourself for taking action. The drugs are so advanced today. I'm glad to see that you are taking advantage of it. Way to go! You will do fine, I just know it!
Lots of Love,


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