Getting Ready to Treat
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, or if you’ve been diagnosed for a while, you still may be adjusting to how living with HIV affects your daily life.
We get it. It can be an unsettling experience at first, but there are lots of strategies to help you live a healthier life. One of those is to start treatment early.
You’ve most probably already had a chat to your doctor (or even a friend or partner) about treatment, and you may even have some reservations. In fact, you may even be thinking to delay starting treatment for as long as possible, because you’re worried about how it will impact your life, and how it will affect your health over time. That’s totally normal, too, and it’s most probably because you may have read or heard some incorrect and outdated information.
But things have changed, especially over the last decade. Treatment options available mean that poz guys can now live long and healthy lives just as neg guys and if you can achieve a UVL (undetectable viral load), that means you can be sure you won’t transmit the virus. That’s good news, right?
Here are some common concerns you may have towards treatment, and the information to clear up any misconceptions you may have.
I’M NOT SURE WHEN TO START TREATMENT
Research from all over the world shows that early, if not immediate, treatment increases life expectancy, improves health and prevents serious illness by more than 50% compared to those who delay starting treatment. Therefore, starting treatment as soon as possible is crucial.
IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE
Here in Australia, we’re lucky to have high quality services and a health system that supports people living with HIV. Sure, some people with HIV are concerned about the cost of treatments, but the cost of medication in Australia is subsidised by the Government. Treatment is now free to Australians living in NSW who have a Medicare card.
In other states, you can contact your local AIDS council or Positive organisations for local treatment and price options, and there are also several schemes and organisations that can help with the cost of HIV treatments.
I HAVE TOO MANY PILLS EVERY DAY
You may be worried about taking complex treatment combinations that require many pills to be taken at strange times. These days, though, modern treatments aren’t anywhere as complicated. In fact, many HIV positive people take a few tablets once or twice a day, and some take only one pill once a day.
I’M CONCERNED ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS
Treatments used today have minimal side effects, are far less toxic and are much more effective against HIV. Side effects, if they occur, are usually only experienced at the beginning of treatment, and in most cases, are relatively mild, don’t last for very long and are easily managed.
These and other improvements in treatment and care have resulted in more people with HIV taking treatment. Moreover, people undergoing treatment report to be living healthier and happier lives than ever before.