Top 5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting HIV Treatment

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Questions like “Why me?” and “What now?” may certainly be the first to arise after an HIV-positive diagnosis, but in order to move forward with living a healthy and full life, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions about your treatment plan. You want to make informed decisions and choices that you feel are best for your long-term health.

Here are five of the top questions to ask yourself before beginning HIV treatment.

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1. Have I fully accepted my status?

Two barriers to committing to a treatment plan are shame and denial. If you have not fully come to terms with your HIV positive status, you could potentially be setting yourself up for failure if you begin treatment before you’re truly ready. It is better to start treatment because you choose to and want to, not because you “should” or because your doctor said to. Treatment means acknowledging to yourself each day that, “I have HIV/AIDS.” Are you ready to do that.

2. Which regimen will allow me to live my life?

Having a good quality of life while taking medication is just as important as taking the mediation itself. It’s important to consider different medications and if your daily routinely will have to change drastically to be successful on a particular regimen.

What are your lifestyle needs? Do you want to become pregnant? Do you take medication for other health issues? There are several good regimens available to new HIV patients and your doctor can assist your in understanding them and finding what works best for you.

3. Who can I share my regimen with?

Having a support network can make all the difference in being successful on your treatment plan. Identify people in your circle, whether friends, family, healthcare practitioners who can ask you how your regimen is going. Something as simple as, “Have you taken your meds today?” can help you stay on the right path when things get challenging.

4. What side effects can I tolerate?

Living with HIV isn’t always pretty. Side effects from medication can include diarrhea, weight loss, skin rashes, vomiting and loss of appetite just to name a select few.

5. What if this regimen doesn’t work?

The first regimen you try may not work for you. You may find it doesn’t really fit your lifestyle and you’re missing doses, or your lab tests may show little improvement in your viral load. As you’re discussing initial treatment options with your doctor, also consider discussing an alternative regiment. It never hurts to have a plan B.

Visit the Living with HIV center for more helpful articles and tips.