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Tested + 2months ago, on meds for a month and the results are in...

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London2013:
Hullo,

Just wanted to share some good news. I tested positive two months ago and was pretty shocked in the first instance. Obviously I know how the virus transmits but I hadn't seriously considered it could have affected me... I suppose i wasnt in a high risk category, but just goes to show it's always better to get tested than live in ignorance. 

Hey no! Here we are.

The nurses and doctors were all great at the hospital I got my results in, and after the initial shock which lasted for a couple of weeks I told my doc I'd like to get on meds sooner rather than later. My VL was around 150,000 and my CD4 count around 450 - and the funky test that attempts to date the infection I'd most likely contracted (is that the term?) within the last 4-6 months.

I met up with a great clinician, followed by a long chat with a brilliant research scientist who's been working in early infection and she immediately wrote me a prescription for Atripla. I dutifully picked up the pills and took them on the first Friday following (having read some scary stories about the side effects, I also got some meds to avoid them and popped them all together).

Waking up in the middle of a night was a bit bizarre, and I'm glad the chemist told me to be aware of dizziness etc... Otherwise I would have thought someone had spiked my pint! Since then the only side effect has been my super vivid dreams which, I have to say, have ranged from the AWESOME to the MAGNIFICENT! Who needs 3D glasses and hollywood when all you need is an exciting book, dose of Atripla before going to sleep and a cosy bed...

But to the good news. Month on the meds, I got a call from my lovely nurse telling me my VL has gone down to 53 - so almost undetectable in just over a month! We didn't do a CD4 but all the liver and kidney results were optimal so doing great!

I suppose I wanted to share for two reasons. Firstly, I was seriously scared when I first found out. Only armed with A-level (high school?) biology and the random stuff I'd read from the papers (all the more embarrassing as I'm a bit of a smart arse, studied theoretical physics and work in what I'd call a brainy environment), I really didn't know what was coming. I've found that this this forum was a great place to read - quietly - other people's experiences. Experiences about the meds, about their lives and how life can be absolutely normal even with this virus we've managed to contract. (Not that "normal" is necessarily such a great boon always!). Life does go on, trust me.

Secondly, I suppose I'm writing selfishly. I've only told one friend (and an ex gf as she was in the "need to know" category) and talking about it is surprisingly cathartic. Obviously you need to be sure the person you tell is trustworthy, but this forum is a great place to use as a sounding board. I was a bit apprehensive first having read some pretty hard-talking people give their frank feedback, but I suppose everyone has their own style. I have to say, having written this diatribe, even if it goes unread, has made me feel better.

They say sharing is caring, and ultimately I don't think people who are negative can quite grasp at all the thousand worries that surge through your mind the moment you're told. I remember feeling light headed, contemplating whether I can ever have kids, proper relationships, what my life expectancy was going to be, what my parents would say etc.... It all made a 30yo guy surprisingly docile and un-cocky! (at least for a few weeks... How do the smiley faces work again... 8)).

The awesome news is that there's plenty of people just like us. We've all been through the shock, the feeling lonely and afraid. But as I look back at the last two months, I can see a surprising amount of improvements that have resulted in what someone on this forum called "shifting" of your focus in life. And that's what it feels like; the first day was like a seismic shock, a landslide. Things felt like they were uncontrollable and going so fast it was hard to find a solid footing.

But from my current vantage point I feel really lucky in many ways. I'm pretty healthy, have started going to the gym again, am spending much more of my time with people I love and less doing nonsense I'd otherwise be prone to. I've got a new rhythm for my daily life. I'm reading more (even if just to have some awesome vivid dreams!). And I've got a new found appreciation for life. A realisation that it's too short to waste it doing pointless crap and how taking a good look at my priorities has made me realise what's really important.

I've nothing but respect for those who've lived with HIV for a long time. They've been prodded and tested on, they've done an amazing amount of work to diminish the social stigma, they've gone through meds that forced them to pop pills (or worse!) every few hours. And they've lived with some horrific side effects of the ailment and the medication. However, this isn't what we have to deal with anymore - thank God. Most meds available now don't cause wasting and innumerable other horrid side effects. Most of us seem to be plodding on pretty normally. It's just a massive challenge to cast that normality into a form that we are happy with, and live with it knowing that 90 per cent of it all is what we've made our lives into.

So in sum, hurrah for the new meds, for all the brilliant research constantly being produced, for the amazing people here who are willing to share their experiences and for ourselves too - for not letting it get to us!


Jeff G:
Your super awesome good attitude will serve you well on your journey its great to hear you are responding so well to the meds .

Those of us that have lived with the virus the longest realize things are better and we benefit from the same advancement in treatment that the newly poz do . We also know from experience that more times than not it can take years to know if a new drug is any better in the long term on how it effects your mind and body than treatments past .

The damage done by treatments past is something I would do again because it meant the difference between life and death , its the same choice and chance that people beginning meds taking now and time will tell which drugs are the most effective and gentle for the long haul .

London2013:
I don't want to turn this into a mutual back slapping fest, but what the hell - maybe we can be excused.

It's only because of forums like this and guys like you I can appreciate how much harder things have been in the past. We owe you a massive thank you (and a pint or two in the pub!). I absolutely hear you about the treatments: if it was a choice between waking up every couple of hours to redose, or slipping into the history books, I'm a 100pc with you. Only one option.

I hope and pray that people in a decade or so will be talking similarly about the Atripla daily dosing or cobiciscat side effects, as though it were but a mere memory. There are two things that keep my spirits up: the amazing research being constantly advanced and the realisation that I'm not alone with all this. Thanks to you and the rest of the awesome squad  ;)

SteveS:
London -

I am in a very similar situation to yours - similar age, recently diagnosed, very low risk for this, utterly floored, and now, surprisingly coming to peace with it and even finding the silver linings. I likewise have seriously hit the gym, changed my diet, and find my decisions and priorities shifting in response. And, i am INCREDIBLY encouraged by the new meds, research, and advances. All in all, hope is a powerful human emotion for us to hold on to. My heart breaks for all who went before with this. The best we can do for them is carry on with a good example and assistance to others. Feel free to read my "story" if it is of interest to you in the posts near yours. And let's keep encouraging one another. Like you, I have shared this with only one other person. This group here helps.

exeejoe:
Hi London,  thanks for an uplifting post! :D  Now thats a proper smiley..... In a few strokes of you pen you seemed to express so much of what most of us newly diagnosed are going through.  I am recently diagnosed as well but havent been on meds yet, my biggest headache is whether I can afford it or not. So have been moving it as far as I can possible manage. Dont need the extra pressure just now, its a mad house at work and all around my private finances so.....Save for that, I am one hellova happy camper and I feel blessed to have found this wonderful people in this community.  What more can we ever ask for.  Well backpatting aside, welcome!

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