DEAR doctor, I started on ARVs in March 2005 and stopped in August 2005 because I could not afford. Then I met a man who was interested in marriage, but I could not tell him the truth.
In your question you raise three important issues on HIV/AIDS care: The timing and preparation for Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART), disclosure and healing by faith. To begin with, no one should be started on ARVs without first counting the cost. Part of adherence counselling has to do with sustainability of the treatment. If you are not sure about a regular supply of your drugs, it is better not to start. ART is not emergency treatment. It is treatment for life.
The second issue you raise is that of disclosure. It is important that people who are in a serious relationship that could lead to marriage or sex know each otherâ€™s HIV sero-status. Unless this is done, we shall continue having new infections including mother-to-child transmission, which puts the people we love in danger of getting infected with HIV.
Concerning the issue of faith healing, as a Christian, I believe that God can heal all diseases. God can choose to do this miraculously without the use of anything or with the help of things He has revealed through medical science such as ARVs. We should however, not confuse healing with total cure. ARVs do not cure HIV/AIDS, but they help people living with the disease live a fairly good quality of life. I consider this a form of healing.
It is safe to resume taking ARVs, but before you do, undergo adherence counselling and if you are sure of a regular source of ARVs and are ready to re-start, your healthcare provider will advise you when to resume. Remember you may be in good shape physically or clinically when your CD4 count is very low and you stand a risk of developing serious opportunistic infections, which could lead to death or other conditions like blindness.
CORRECTION: Last week, we misrepresented ARV Triomune. This is a combination of three drugs: stavudine or zerit,lamivadine and nevirapine.
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Is it okay to resume taking ARVs?