Part of the Series My First Pill, this article by Greg Greeman first appeared in TheBody.com here.
It's never an easy decision when it comes to treatment. I wasn't even sure I could accept that I was HIV positive. So many aspects of my life felt -- and were -- really uncertain. It was August 2010 when I found out that I was HIV positive. It was an immeasurable blow, sitting there in the doctor's office crying.
I went back to the hotel and was sitting on the bed -- ANGRY -- really angry about how I ended up in this mess. At the time, I had so many ambitions.
Two weeks -- that's how long it took for me to consider treatment as opposed to suicide. Two weeks to start looking at treatment options as I was diagnosed with AIDS. That was a real shock. So here I was in the doctor's office; this time with an HIV/AIDS specialist, Dr. Cassandra Workman. This woman is one of the finest examples of treatment specialists in Sydney, Australia.
Cassy and I walked through treatment options, and what it meant to be on treatment. I needed to consider that once I started treatment, it's a regimen every day for the rest of my life. It was explained to me that treatment is a desire to be well and that I should proactively manage my own treatment.
We decided on an initial baseline therapy of Truvada [tenofovir/FTC] and Isentress [raltegravir]. I was sitting there in Cassy's office, feeling nervous. We talked about safe sex, side effects and what really happens if you're not adherent to the medication.
Fast forward to March 2014 and I'm still on the same regimen with fantastic results. I've been consistently undetectable since January 2011. My CD4 count is 600. My labs are really great. I have had no side effects and my kidney and liver can really tolerate the medications. I am really pleased that my efforts to manage my HIV are going strong.
My initial fears about treatment and medications were unfounded and I benefited immensely from an honest and frank chat with my doctor. I've since moved to Melbourne to continue to move forward in my life and treatment with HIV. Still single, and yet to take a holiday, however, with my medication there isn't really any disruption to my life. I'm really glad about that as I have gone back to university to better educate myself and often find that HIV and medication don't really impede my success.
The Body.com says: What was your first pill? Whether it was AZT or Atripla, we want you to tell your story! Write out your story (between 200 and 1,000 words, please!) or film a YouTube video, and email it to
. We'll be posting readers' My First Pill stories here in our Resource Center on Starting HIV Treatment.