Sunday 21 November 2021

An injection for my pills

My will for the pills

When I think about it, I have what I might call a health-year, the biannual visits to see the consultant in charge of my HIV management which has been under control with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for just over 12 years with two changes of medication that I handle very well.

Until I fell seriously ill in 2009, one of my concerns about what to do was around the pill burden, too many experiences and stories had given me the idea that ARVs were difficult to store, you took many pills several times a day and the side effects could be unbearable.

I guess by the time I left the hospital with a medication trailer of pills to be taken 8-times, 6-times, 4-times, thrice, twice, and once daily, along with the chemotherapy every three weeks, I knew my life was totally changed and would change radically if I were to keep alive by adhering to that pill regime.

Adapting fine to routine

With time, I was left with ARVs of just 3-pills to be taken once a day, and an antiviral prophylactic drug to be taken twice daily. On later chemotherapy sessions, I needed an anti-emetic to help keep the food in. One large pill taken an hour before the session and the two smaller pills for one each of the next two days.

The ARVs affected the bowel movements that I was put on a single-pill medication that I have been on since May 2010 apart from the change in late 2018 that lasted 6 weeks that did not work for me, I returned to the medication I was having rather than try something new. My pills are a nightly elevenses, they work for me, I have had an undetectable viral load for over 12 years and my CD4 count has been increasing appreciably. Those are the markers for the state of my health.

Good, but not ready

Last week, it was announced that the taking of daily ARVs can be replaced with injections taken every two months, or 6-times a year. Two injections, apparently to help many who have problems with the daily pill taking and the disruption to their lives. I do appreciate the usefulness and need for this, though I seem to have adapted when to the daily pills, I do not think I am mentally predisposed to this possible change to bi-monthly injections. [BBC News: First long-acting injection for HIV approved]

I get my prescription every 6 months for a 6-month run, and my day is planned around ensuring I take my pills as required, my weekly pill box laid out every Sunday and kept track of as diligently as possible, I might just be averse to change after having perfected this routine. Altogether, I doubt I have missed my medication up to a dozen times since the 30th of September 2009.

Now, I might well consider an HIV vaccine if that becomes available as a yearly jab taken like a flu jab that would have the efficacy of keeping the viral load undetectable and the virus completely at bay. Until then, whilst I do not have the numbers, I am happy with my pills.

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