Hardly a week goes by when I do not hear someone say that; “HIV is a manageable chronic disease” and this is generally a true statement especially in industrialized countries like in North America (but not according to everyone). There are those who can live well with HIV (their HIV is chronic and manageable) and those who have difficulty achieving a healthy life (their HIV is closer to life-threatening). Even for those that have found HIV to be ‘manageable’ there is much more to the story of living with HIV and medications.
For HIV to become ‘manageable’ medications are needed, medications that are not without their own costs. Modern antiretroviral therapy drugs called “cocktails” have been central in this large step towards HIV treatability. These medication cocktails can reduce the viral load in individuals, to below detectable levels, although it does not eliminate the virus completely.
Sadly though, these medications have many possible side effects, ranging from headaches and lethargy, to hair loss and nausea. Many individuals that have taken antiretroviral for long periods of time also experience other side effects and symptoms, such as heart problems, Liver Damage, Lipodystrophy, and Neuropathy.
Not everyone on medication has or will experience side effects. But for those that think that managing HIV through medication is easy all the time for everyone, you need to know that there is much more to the story.
Danny West: Managing Antiretroviral (ARV) Side Effects