Yes, it’s #9 of the 25 things you should know about HIV (and probably don’t). These 25 things will impact what you do and the choices you will make.
“When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.”~Isak Dinesen
#9: It is better not to start HIV treatment if you can’t take your medicine every day.
Remember the old saying “In for a penny, in for a pound.” I used to wonder what that meant… It means that when gambling or taking a chance, you might as well go the whole way and take all the risks, not just some.
In the case of HIV treatment, you’ve got to be in for a pound because you are taking more risks if you are just in for a penny. If you don’t go the whole way and take your HIV meds every day as prescribed, you are far more likely to allow the HIV virus to mutate in your body and become resistant to the drugs that you are taking.
Resistance happens when the HAART therapy you are taking no longer works to keep your HIV viral load down. The virus starts to multiply and to damage your immune system.
Why is this important to you?
Your front line therapy against HIV is your best option to keep your viral load down and your CD4 count high. Drugs can stop working over time and you may need to determine what your second and third line therapies will be.
Losing one of these therapies because you can’t take your medication as it was prescribed lowers the options available to you to fight HIV. And you are going to want as many of them as you can if you experience side effects to some medications.
It is better to stop your therapy until you are ready to face it and take your medications every single day on time. Although there are risks that your viral load will increase if you stop, there is less risk that you will develop resistance to these life savings drugs.
How does this affect your path?
We have talked about the choices and decisions that you have to make when you are HIV positive in many of my blog posts.
This is going to be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. It’s never too late to start and benefit from therapy, but starting earlier rather than waiting too long may decrease damage to your immune system and give you a better long-term health outcomes.
Starting earlier and not following your treatment guidelines not only causes you to lose the benefits of the therapy, it can cause you to lose a whole lot more.
Staying on any treatment program is difficult under the best of conditions. How many times have we all forgotten to take even a simple course of antibiotics for strep throat?
Taking medicines for HIV sometimes means taking a ten or more pills a day at specific times – some with food, some without. So it’s no big surprise that we might have some trouble keeping up with the schedule. You’ve got to take an honest look at your life and what you do each day that will support adhering to your program.
I know I have said it before, but you have to get in the game here and know all the rules if you are going to fight HIV.
Another one of those rules is that it does more harm to start your treatment and not follow it every day than it does to wait a little while until you are ready to commit.
“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” ~Zig Ziglar