For people leaving with HIV: How to know if you are doing well on your drugs

PLHIV is an acronym for “people leaving with HIV”. Some people leave with HIV comfortably without problems. These people are those doing well on HIV drugs otherwise known as antiretrovirals  (ARVs).

Apart from the associated stress in accessing HIV services in most places, these people  don’t have any other problem whatever as a result of HIV they are leaving with. Desire to be here if you are infected with HIV. 
Meanwhile, there are another category of people who HIV deals with real hard. These people make HIV look dreadful. Well, it’s actually dreadful when left to flourish on humans. In these people, what is called AIDS results and this mercilessly kills them eventually.

Don’t be among this group and equally encourage members of this group to renounce their membership.
You may be wondering why there should be two categories of People leaving with HIV.

To be frank, the category of PLHIV who do well on treatment have what I call acquired traits lacking in their counterpart and only that created the difference and/or categories.

  • These people believe that HIV is real unlike their counterpart.
  • They know that ARVs which you can call HIV drugs help them leave and stay healthy. They are on it as a result of this not necessarily because they enjoy taking them.
  • They adhere to their medications and other HIV services.
  • They leave positively knowing that having  HIV is not the end of life.

How this category of PLHIV can monitor their performance after starting treatment

1. At the due time, do and always ask for the result of your viral load. It’s expected to be low or undetectable.

HIV being a virus multiples every second in our body. The count varies in different infected persons. The more the viral load, the more the danger that lies ahead. These virus is what destroys our immune systems and make us vulnerable to different kinds of diseases.

In PLHIV who take their drugs as supposed, their viral load is usually very low. At times, undetectable by the machine used in carrying out the test. So, if you are adhering to treatment, your viral load should be low and it should keep going down even to a point where it becomes undetectable. This shows that your treatment is effective.

2. At the due time, run CD4 count and ask for the value.

CD4 count measures your immunity. That is, it checks how equipped your body is to fight diseases. CD4 cells are the body’s defence or the security guards. In healthy individuals, it’s always high.

When we become infected, what HIV does is that it targets the CD4 cells and begins to destroy them progressively. When they become very low, our body will become weak and begins to bow to most diseases known to man.
That’s why when a person leaving with HIV and not on treatment or not serious with his or her treatment gets down with diseases, it last more than normal. Although, that’s when it must have brought down the person’s immune system.

If you are on ARVs, always run CD4 count. You’re good to go if it keeps increasing. Of course, it should if you are leaving positively and adhering to treatment.

3. Always listen to your body (system). There might be impending danger if :

  • You have been coughing for up to 2 weeks or more
  • You have been sweating in the night for up to 2 weeks or more
  • You have fever that has lasted for 2 weeks or more
  • You are losing weight involuntary to up to 10% of your body weight.

When some or all of these are present, there might be a problem somewhere with your treatment.

Action to take:

Go for TB diagnosis and be started on its treatment if positive.

Note that if you are doing well on your treatment, that’s if you’re adhering, you will not come down with any problems (syndromes)  associated with HIV/AIDS.
Albeit, if otherwise, expect:

  • hard to stop diarrhoea

This will drain you and it’s the beginning of you looking like a skeleton. This is  preventable. The decision is in your hands. The earlier you start treatment, the better.

  • cancer (including kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer etc)

This is a must on PLHIV that have developed to AIDS. You should know that you can never have AIDS if you are adhering to treatment.

  • Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is disabling and common among PLHIV who are not on treatment or who are not doing well on their treatment (non-adherence to treatment). This can be avoided by enrolling on treatment or by adhering to treatment. The treatment is free and it saves you excruciating pain and death.

  • death eventually

Ones a person leaving with HIV has developed AIDS probably because s/he is not on treatment, the next thing is death. No two ways about this.

The bitterness here is that the death is always painful. It’s just like hell on earth.

HIV is real. If you are negative, remain negative. If you are positive, remain healthy.

For more on HIV/AIDS Opportunist infections, click here

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