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My Story with Medication – A Video Blog

August 24, 2011

This article is cross-posted from TheBody.com’s Resource Center on Starting HIV Treatment.

I’ve been HIV positive for 20 years, 10 of them without any HIV meds; and for the last 10 years I have been on HIV medication. If I could go back 20 years, I wouldn’t change a thing. I really believe (and this is only my opinion) that not taking the high dosages of AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine) that were offered 20 years ago saved my life.

Not everyone should wait this long to get on meds. All bodies are different.  My T-cell count went down to a dangerous 39; that is when I said “It is time.” I always follow my heart and gut instincts.

I was on Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) for the past 10 years. Recently I had another gut instinct: I said “Enough of Trizivir.” The reason for this is because of the AZT in it,  conversations with friends and of course my HIV specialist! Although my  viral load was undetectable, I really felt it was time for a change … and so I did.

I was put on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC), which was what I’d wanted. I made the best decision for me. Less than a month and half later my T cells are now 399 — they have never been so high! And my CD4 percentage went from 22 percent to 27 percent, which is awesome! I am still undetectable and very blessed.

So the one piece of advice I would give myself would’ve been the same — I wouldn’t change a thing. Now for those newly diagnosed: Things are different now! You have more options. You shouldn’t wait till your immune system is destroyed like mine was. Take your meds and live a healthy and positive lifestyle. Please find a doctor you can communicate with and listens to you. Be proactive with your illness; and most important; do your research! These are our bodies, and we are in a learning process along with our doctors.

This is the key to living a healthy life with HIV/AIDS: Don’t minimize the illness! If you don’t take care of yourself and do what you are supposed to do, you can get very ill and even die. All of this is preventable!

Please love yourself and take your Meds when you and your doctor feel it is time for you to start. It will be hard at the beginning; you may feel sick while the body adapts to the medication. This is normal. But after that you will start to feel better, and with the HIV medications your immune system will have help against the virus.

Life is beautiful! And again, keep yourself healthy until the cure comes!

Maria

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. akwir mirriam ojok permalink
    August 25, 2011 9:49 am

    Thanxs dear 4 sharing ur experience here with this community of positive girls like me, i must say am bless because i discuss many issues affecting me with friends and my doctors and i have had a wonderful time. am on septrine 4 quiet a long time and my CD4 has not gone down from 1,350 per count. this is because this ia because i and my doctor agreed to start some thing before the last dying option.

    My advice to those who feel like following their hearts only is the best option in most cases with HIV it does not work because we need help from all conners and we can base our lives on one sold thinking. Be a open minded person and get to learn and know more about the disease and what can be done to live a healthy life. till then sisters, girls get up and take charge of your selves

  2. mariateresa1111 permalink
    August 25, 2011 3:04 pm

    yes akwir..but you see 20 year plus that I have been poz the only thing they were giving were high dosages of azt..and they wanted me to sign a waiver that it could damage my internal organs! at such a young age I made the decision not to take that! my personal decision and gut instinct! because yes we have to listen to our doctors! but the reality is that we have to research also…they are in a learning process wit us..I have been positive longer than some of my doctors and they learn from me also..I am the one who tells my doctor what to prescribe me! I think this is what has maintained me healthy inside and looking good in the outside..so I believe we have to have a wonderful relationship with our doctors,follow our gut instincts and research! we have to be proactive with our illness 🙂 xoxo love and light ~Maria~

  3. akwir mirriam ojok permalink
    August 26, 2011 1:20 am

    hello maria, Good Morning hope this finds u in a happy and healthy state this morning,I do agree with researches and the continuous learning processes with our Doctors as you mentioned, before a fetal motor accident 5 years back that made me HIV positive I was still a very young high school girl who was very interested in knowing every thing in the world of HIV because i had lost many friends and relatives to HIV/Aids, I had acquired knowledge and a deeper understanding of the disease,some times during school holidays i would volunteer with Aids Service Organizations just to learn more. Today I am a grown up girl working with an Aids Service Organization in the field of advocacy and community sensitization on HIV/Aids. Every morning It is a must that i have to read all the news related to HIV have learn extensively and i use the knowledge to save live. I must say though that i love you 4 standing up for your self. I am Much stronger to day because am much informed. I do request every girl on this site to hold hands with one another and strive for our dreams. till then with love worth giving Akwir

  4. mariateresa1111 permalink
    August 26, 2011 1:09 pm

    wow my friend you story is very similar to mine..I got infected at the age of 16 from my first boyfriend..diagnosed at 18..I have lived with this 20 years plus and I have dedicated my life to save lives 🙂 why dont you add me on face book I have 2 support groups that I founded..an english international one which is very active with almost 1500 members and the spanish one which i created 3 days ago and already it has like 400 people 🙂 my name there is maria hiv mejia..my mission and passion is to save lives and stomp on stigma! love and light

    Maria

  5. akwir mirriam ojok permalink
    August 27, 2011 2:12 am

    Good morning dear, thanxs You’re really a hope builder girl, let me add on ur strength, In my country Uganda, the normal live expectancy is at 55 yrs this is a recent survey the earlier survey was at 45 yrs. A new study conducted in africa and 3 of that study was carried out in uganda among people living with HIV and the findings are that any body who is HIV positive in uganda can live a normal live and die either of old age or other cause of death. It was also fund that Women/ female generally live a longer live than their male counter part, this is because women access medical services earlier than the men, men on other side fear to be associated with hiv or being seen going to AIDS service centers for health and in most causes they access medication when its a bit late. I will add u to my face book account and may be we can make a different 2day in some ones live.
    Have a blessed Day

  6. mariateresa1111 permalink
    August 30, 2011 12:54 pm

    yes sister add me! this will be wonderful! xoxo ~Maria~

  7. September 6, 2011 3:51 pm

    Hi Maria,
    I’m no longer on FB because it was distressing to some important people in my support network. To them, it looked as if my life is a lot messier than it actually is. Still following you here, however. Be well and stay dry in this stormy hurricane season. You GO, girl!

  8. sara permalink
    January 15, 2012 4:04 pm

    HI Maria,it nice 2 share ur experience.pl mine care is rather worst rather than d CD4 increasing mine is decreasing thou i have just started medication 5 months ago,sud i ask 4 a change or still watch?am on Tenofovir Disoproxil fumarate combination.tanx Maria u’r an angel

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