HIV Longevity Still Fighting…

18Feb/09Off

HIV Medication

Posted by Vaughn Ripley

When I was first diagnosed with HIV, there were no medicines available to combat this deadly disease. At the end of the 80's AZT became available. Early on I didn't take any of the medicines that were becoming available, but it was apparent that I would need them. Since I started on meds, I have ingested a ton of HIV and AIDS related medicines and homeopathic remedies.

I started out on AZT (Zidovudine) like most of the HIV+ folks. I also dabbled in DDI (Didanosine or Videx); which gave me projectile vomit fits and peripheral neuropathy among other things. Since then I have tried most of the medicines available today... My latest drug cocktail consists of:

  • Sustiva (efavirenz) is in the category of HIV medicines called non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Sustiva prevents the cells from creating new virus and reduces the amount of virus in your body. Sustiva is used in combination with other drugs to treat HIV (hence drug cocktail). Normally, it is combined with two nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (called NRTIs or "Nukes").
  • Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) is a NRTI (nucleotide as opposed to a nucleoside) type of medicine used in combination with other medicines. VIREAD blocks HIV reverse transcriptase (enzyme) that is needed for HIV to multiply. VIREAD lowers the viral load.
  • Epivir (amivudine) is also an NRTI (nucleoside) prevents HIV from altering the genetics of T-cells. This prevents the cells from producing virus and lowers the viral load.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About AIDS Medication
Instead of writing a long dissertation on medicines that are available, I decided to point you in the right direction... This web site covers more than you ever imagined about HIV medicines:
http://www.aidsmeds.com/

Importance of Daily Medication Ingestion
I'm sure you've heard it all before... "You MUST take your medicine on a regular basis!" But, most of us lead lives where this is hard to do sometimes. As you know, your body can build up a tolerance to some of the HIV medicines available today. Most of the tolerances are enhanced by taking time off from the drug. Even worse, some drugs (like Sustiva) stay in your body longer than other ones and can be dangerous without the additional drugs from your triple drug therapy.

In order to enhance your drug experience and to make sure that you are making the most of medicines you ingest, make sure that you take them on a regular basis that is laid out by your prescribing doctor.

The easiest way that I have found to make sure that I always take my medicines is to keep a pill fob (small metal or plastic cylinder) filled with one days dosage. Gone are the days of 22 pills and or horse-sized pills. With today's small dosages, you can easily fit them into a single fob. I also keep a weekly vitamin container (that you can pickup at GNC or pharmacy store) for times when I go on "overnighters" or vacations. If you don't dog on fobs or medicine containers, Zip-Lock makes a snack-sized bag, which is a half-height sandwich bag. Get a box of those and use one for your medicines.

The key to taking your pills day-in-day out is to always be prepared. If you sometimes stay out all night without warning, then you should carry a dose with you at all times! Easy-peasy!

Vomiting and How to Control It
Many of the medicines that we have to take taste terrible and/or make us feel like vomiting. Over time, I found that you can control your vomit reflex by remaining calm and focusing on avoiding it. The main key is to stop telling yourself, Oh God, I'm gonna throw up! Try to avert your thoughts and think about something different. You may find this hard to do in the early stages, but just like anything else in your body, your brain can improve and strengthen with practice.

Remember that vomiting is simply the bodies reaction to a message from the brain. Calm yourself before taking your medicine by breathing deeply and meditating. Once you have reached a calm state, take your medicine with a focus on good things. By controlling your body and staying calm you can avoid vomiting.

Think! While Taking Your Medicine
I can't reiterate enough how important positive thinking is while enduring HIV. I have found that a good mental attitude is just as powerful (if not more so) as a top-notched doctor and good drugs. In the past I would take my pills thinking, this is prolonging my inevitable death. Then I would question why my CD-4 counts weren't improving. Looking back, I realize that I was taking 22 pills approximately every four hours of the day. So, five or six time each and every day I would chant the death mantra. Finally, I realized that this was part of my problem. I decided to do a test and start thinking more positive about my drug ingestion. I turned my death mantra into a life mantra.Every time that I took pills, I followed this procedure:

1. Calm myself with breathing and meditation;
2. Focus on the good side of the drugs;
3. While taking each pill, I would chant things like, "This pill is making me stronger and healthier."

After a while of doing this, I noticed that I was feeling better and healthier. My levels went up and I reduced my vomiting. All-in-all, I had created a better me and the medicines were working! Try it out for yourself.

I should mention that in later years, I adapted this process and created what I consider to be an even more robust life mantra. You can read more about this in one of my upcoming Blogs titled, "The War of the Body."

p.s. This post is a chapter in my blog-book, The Secret to Longevity. Checkout my similar posts here: http://hivlongevity.com/the-secret. Or, follow the goodie trail:
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