8 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE STARTING HIV MEDICATION
YOUR HIV DOCTOR OR SPECIALIST NURSE ARE THE PEOPLE TO TALK TO
Have an honest conversation with your HIV doctor or specialist nurse – they’re there to advise and support you. There are lots of options around starting treatment, and the people involved in your clinical care will be happy to discuss this with you.
CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS AND THINK ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF STARTING TREATMENT
Make sure that you properly understand the benefits, for you, of starting HIV treatment and take time to consider the pros and cons. George House Trust Services Advisers can offer you a space to talk and think things over.
START TREATMENT AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU, ONCE YOUR HIV DOCTOR RECOMMENDS THAT YOU START
It’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of why it’s the right time to start treatment. Being ready and prepared before starting treatment means you will be better informed and more confident as you start your treatment journey.
IT’S A LIFELONG COMMITMENT
But it’s a commitment that’s entirely possible to fit into your daily routine. Many people are taking HIV meds daily, doing the things they’ve always done and getting on with their lives.
TAKING TABLETS EXACTLY AS PRESCRIBED MEANS THEY’LL WORK AS THEY SHOULD, AND REMOVE THE LIKELIHOOD OF DEVELOPING RESISTANCE
You’ll need to make sure that you take your medication regularly without missing any doses. Missed doses can mean that your HIV develops resistance to the particular drug you’re taking. Think about how you’ll get into the right routine to make sure that you don’t miss a dose.
THE BENEFITS OF AN UNDETECTABLE VIRAL LOAD ARE MASSIVE
Adhering well to your treatment means that the amount of the virus in your body will come down to levels which are undetectable. Research shows that someone with an undetectable viral load has a negligible chance of passing HIV on to someone else. That’s got to be a good thing.
TREATMENT MAKES YOU BETTER, AND SIDE EFFECTS ARE BECOMING A THING OF THE PAST
Your body may need to adjust to taking new, regular medication, but many of the side effects that people experience are manageable and often short lived.
HIV MEDICATION IS BETTER NOW THAN IT’S EVER BEEN
HIV drugs - and their effectiveness – have improved massively over the years. Undetectable is the new HIV status – you’re only going to get there if you’re on treatment and adhering well.
BLACK GAY MEN STILL AT HIGHER RISK OF HIV IN THE UK
Gay and bisexual men of black ethnicity are disproportionately more likely to be living with diagnosed HIV than white British men, with no evidence that this health inequality has narrowed since 2001, according to a report published online ahead of print in Sexually Transmitted Infections.
WARNING OF HEPATITIS A OUTBREAK AMONG MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN IN EUROPE
An outbreak of hepatitis A in Europe has affected 287 people in at least 13 countries, with large numbers of cases in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Public health authorities have identified three clusters of cases in which men who have sex with men (MSM) predominate. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has called for vaccination campaigns to target MSM, and Public Health England is encouraging gay and bisexual men to seek vaccination.
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE COULD BE OFFERED HIV TESTS DURING ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS AS OUTLINED BY NICE.
The new draft quality standard aims to improve the uptake of HIV testing among adults (aged 18 and over) and young people (aged 16-18) who may have undiagnosed HIV. This would mean they could have timely treatment to reduce the risk of onward transmission.