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To Medicate or Not to Medicate?

To Medicate or Not to Medicate?


The decision of when to begin antiretroviral therapy is one of the most important an HIV-positive person faces. Talk about your lab tests and overall health with your doctor before deciding whether to begin or delay therapy. Below are some specific questions to ask to help determine when you're ready to begin taking anti-HIV medications. If you are thinking about starting anti-HIV therapy now: ''What impact will taking anti-HIV medications have on your health and lifestyle? ''How will you know if the medications are working? ''What other medicines will you be able to take if your first regimen doesn't work? ''What side effects should you be prepared to deal with? Should you be especially concerned about any of them? If you'd like to wait to begin anti-HIV therapy: ''What will happen to your immune system and its ability to fight off other illnesses? ''Will you have the same treatment options later? ''After the first regimen, what other options will you have? Personal issues to consider: ''Which of the possible risks that come with starting or delaying treatment are you able to best handle? ''What are the risks you don't want to take? ''Will you be able to take the medicines every day as directed for the foreseeable future? Are you willing to do so? ''What help, if any, would you need in remembering to take all your pills every day? ''Are you ready to handle the side effects of the medications? ''Who are the people in your life who can help you stick to your treatment plan? SOURCE: 'Talking, Living, Connecting: A Guide to Managing HIV' brochure prepared by Agouron Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer as part of the companies' national 'Dialogues: Education and Treatment for a Well Planned Future' campaign

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