One of the slightly uncomfortable aspects of coming to terms with my HIV diagnosis was the realisation that I would be dependent on medication for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that this medication exists and tremendously grateful to live in a country where healthcare is free, but it was difficult admitting the fact that the only thing preventing the continued weakness of my immune system was a few colourful pills each day.
I’ve been on medication before, in my early/mid teens I was prescribed anti-depressants, and was on those for about four years, but that never really bothered me. This time was different, partly because I knew it wouldn’t be a temporary thing – I’d require these antiretroviral drugs for the rest of my life, but mostly because it meant accepting that my body in its current state was broken, unable to sustain itself, not able to keep me alive ‘naturally’.
I don’t know if I’m alone in this concern or if it’s common, and I guess it’s not an issue uniquely associated with HIV, I wonder if diabetics for example who require daily insulin injections might feel the same?
After a few months of taking my antiretrovirals (often abbreviated to ARVs), I am beginning to feel more comfortable about my newest dependence. I’ve rationalised the situation as best I can, by acknowledging that I, and indeed all of us, are already reliant on so many things to keep us alive – food and water, heat, oxygen. What’s one more thing to add to the list?
I’m hopeful that in the future new treatments may make it possible to swap my daily meds for 3 or 6-monthly injections, that’d at least take away the daily reminder. But taking my meds each day isn’t something I do reluctantly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put into words how grateful I am to live with HIV, rather than fall victim to it.
Thanks for reading :-)