NOT READY TO TREAT?
Starting treatment is a personal decision that you need to make in consultation with your HIV specialist. New evidence shows that going on treatment early can reduce the risk of serious health complications related to HIV, such as cancer and renal failure. Getting on treatment early can also bring your viral load down to undetectable in as little as 3 to 6 months, which radically reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
It’s really important to be organised if you are living with HIV and planning to head overseas. Don’t assume that you will be able to access medication while you are away – you need to make sure you have enough medication to last the trip, and advice from your doctor explaining why you need to carry it.
Different countries have very different attitudes and policies when it comes to HIV. If you are going somewhere new it’s very important to check out any restrictions that might be in place before you head off. Find out more about travelling with HIV here.
In New Zealand the cost of treatment for HIV is mostly covered by the government through our pharmacy subsidy scheme administered by PHARMAC. The only cost for accessing medication is $5 per 3-month prescription. Additionally, all HIV specialists in New Zealand are based at public hospitals and are free to access. The reality is that if you don’t get treatment for HIV, both the health and financial costs for you will far outweigh the costs of accessing treatment. If you are concerned about the financial impact of HIV there are a number of counselling and support services available to help. Get in touch here.
Early treatments for HIV were complicated and involved many pills taken at all hours of the day and night. Treatments these days are far simpler, with many people taking only one or two pills a day. While some people will be on more complicated treatment regimens, the health benefits from being on treatment far outweigh any inconvenience that may be experienced taking them. There’s an app you can download to remind you when to take your meds here (iPhone) and here (Android).
Today’s HIV treatments have far fewer side effects and are much less toxic than treatments of the past. There is usually a period of adjustment when you start any new medication. Most people experience some side effects when they first start treatment, but everyone responds to treatment differently. Finding the treatment that works best for you, with as few side effects as possible, is a process that you work through with your HIV specialist. Rest assured, the benefits that you get from being on treatment far outweigh any drawbacks.