This article by Aundaray Guess first appeared on POZ magazine here.
One of the biggest decisions when it comes to one's HIV care is whether or not to start taking HIV medication. It may sound like a no-brainer but for those directly affected it's not an easy decision to make. Until a cure is found, starting a HIV treatment is a lifetime commitment filled with new rules and schedules. Not only does one have to deal with the reality of HIV but also other factors come into play like cost, fear of side effects and stigma. It's a lifestyle adjustment and yet it has its benefits. Benefits such as making one's HIV manageable and the allowance of a normal life. But how does one make that choice and what should one consider before taking HIV medication?
According to the CDC just half of HIV-positive men who have sex with men got the treatment that could save their lives in 2010. During the moments after my own HIV diagnosis, one of my fears was feeling I had to rely on pills to maintain my health. I considered myself a self-sufficient person and wanted to be in the driver seat when it came to my health. I defiantly didn't want the dependency on any external factors. Especially something I seemed I had to swallow on a monthly basis.
Despite my doubts I finally gave in and it wasn't as bad as I thought. One of the deciding factors was knowing it was much easier to address my status while I was healthy and not waiting until it became more complex. Also after seeing my t-cells drop low and watching my viral level reach new heights, I knew I had to do something and attempting to place my head in the sand wouldn't change my HIV status. So starting a HIV medication wasn't easy but it was one of the best decisions I could make. Of course it took some adjustments but nothing I wasn't able to manage. In fact I feel starting a medication regimen has contributed to my current well being.
Not everyone who tests positive needs to take HIV meds right away. Starting medication consists of several factors your doctor will take into account. They'll take into consideration your T-cell count, viral load and any other health conditions you may have. So for those undecided I would like to offer six good reasons to consider swallowing.
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