It has been seventy nine days since my diagnosis and my decision to start medication early has now become reality. My appointment with Dr Radcliffe at the Queen Elizabeth hospital this morning was a lot easier than I ever expected, I was convinced in my mind I would be desperately discouraged from starting medication so early, The phrases ‘But you don’t need them yet’, ‘You’re only Eighteen’ and ‘You can never stop taking them once you start’ are just some of the discouraging lectures I had expected to hear from my HIV doctor when I told him. I guess it is now fair to say, I was wrong. The doctor was extremely understanding, and when he realized I knew a lot about Anti-retroviral therapy he said I could start today with no hesitation what-so-ever.

So after a consultation with the pharmacist, a quick catch up with Tom (UKPositiveLad) at the Clinic and an amazing haircut from my former workplace, I am now sitting at home waiting until I go to sleep, wondering what to expect. The side effects are usually the worst during the first few days/nights of therapy, usually lessening to a tolerable or non-existent state over a week or two in most people. Vivid dreams and dizziness are the most common, Insomnia and nausea and also regularly mentioned. The tablet I am taking for the first time tonight is called ATRIPLA. A one-a-day combination tablet, The Three components of ATRIPLA were once prescribed and taken as separate medications at the same time before 2007. The fact these individual medications are now given as one tablet is truly amazing for both treatment and adherence for HIV-1 sufferers.

This is the first Tablet of the rest of my life. Without it I would develop AIDS and not reach 30. No doubt.

So tonight, when I take my Atripla, I am going to be thinking about the 30 million people who have died from AIDS, the amazing research breakthroughs and everyone that HIV has effected in every way shape and form. I am so lucky to have the option to live long with HIV unlike many people before me, I just hope my body allows itself to adjust with ease and give me the chance at a problem-free life on medication. Bottoms up…

Luke x
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  1. Great blog. I myself am expecting to start treatment in a couple of weeks and am quite worried about those first few weeks of side-effects. Reading your views does put me at ease, we are so very lucky to live somewhere that this treatment is available.

  2. I’d be curious to know what led you to choose not to start meds. I’m 39 and have been positive for 7 years and have no need to go on to meds yet. I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible.

  3. Beware of feeling like SHIT and incapacitated for 24 hrs. BUT it passes. Then be careful to take it on an empty stomach because the slightest food within 2 hrs before and one hr after can trigger severe depression. But after a month you’ll feel youself again. And the QEH team are fab. It’s now 5 months on for me and life is normal and good! Big love to you. And you’re totally hot, by the way! Lol So life will resume and you’ll be fine 🙂 I too thanl God for the NHS and think of the millions less fortunate than ourselves. Xx

  4. Luke, good luck and don’t worry, if you have side effects they will most likely be manageable; you will be looked after. I wish I had the option to start anti-retrovirals while my CD4 count was around/above 500 (and high viral load). I got cancer last year (HIV related) and I may need treatment for a different cancer this year. I started on Atripla this March and other than a few stomach issues I’ve had no problems and I’m taking my tablet religiously every night. I haven’t missed a single one so far. Best of luck.

  5. Hi

    Can I ask you (and anyone else) why you wouldn’t start treatment straight away? Is there a downside to it other than the side effects? What is the benefit to delaying?

    Thanks x

  6. Thank you to everyone for reading 🙂 my reasons for going onto medication early are quite personal to me, aside from having a lot of fatigue when not on meds…I overall wanted to gain back some control over my condition, another is that treatment is not just about my health, but others. Medication decreases the chances of me transmitting the virus to others, the final reason is my health, recent studies have shown people who start medication earlier have less medical problems and overall higher CD4 counts for the rest of their life, HIV does cause irreversible immunity damage, and with 21st century medication…starting early has more pros than cons in my mind. But you will all be happy to hear I’m coping very well so far on Atripla, as far as side effects go…I’ve barely had any, and the minor ones I have had, lasted 2 days…let’s hope this keeps up! Thank you all for reading 🙂

  7. Thanks for this info. I think it is really important for people to understand more about HIV and I think everyone on this site is doing a fantastic job and making quite a sacrifice to share your personal info. Glad your medication is working out.


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