What’s the right time to start taking ARVs?
The right time to start taking your ART is as soon as you find out you are HIV positive, no matter how ‘healthy’ you think you are.
It is a shocking experience to get diagnosed with HIV and oftentimes most people would shy away from starting treatment immediately due to the shock, and stigma that surrounds HIV and people would say, ‘When I accept my status, that is when I will start my medication.’ this leaves one at a very vulnerable state and increases their chances at getting opportunistic diseases such as: TB, pneumonia, lymphoma, candidiasis etc.
It is important to immediately start your medication because the body’s immunity is already compromised and leaves one vulnerable to the opportunistic diseases which could further worsen their condition. Getting your viral load in check should be the main priority and concern for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and this can only be achieved by adhering to your medication regimen which means sticking to an HIV regimen – taking medicines everyday and exactly as prescribed.
Medication adherence is key to maintaining an undetectable viral load, which protects the immune system and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
Although there is emphasis on early initiation to medication it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any underlying issues that can make adherence difficult. For example a busy schedule, lack of an accessible health facility within your local area, nutritional needs.
Healthcare providers can recommend resources to help people deal with any issues that may interfere with adherence.
Acceptance can take some time for one to come to terms with living with HIV, that should not stop you from taking your medication because as it is there are people down the line who are still battling with acceptance which is interfering with their medicine intake.
Acceptance is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. The most important thing to focus on is your health and not what other people might say about you, that will be a topic for another day, but for now, make that first step.