Q and A

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Can we take recreational drugs when on HIV meds?

My partner and I are both on meds and once a month or so spend about 1-2 days taking recreational drugs – namely speed and less often ecstasy. During these ‘benders’ we are really careful to take our meds on time which is of course a priority for us, although during this time we don’t tend to sleep or eat. Are we putting ourselves at greater risk due to our status or are the risks similar to 2 negative people doing the same thing? Would really appreciate your feedback on this…..Cheers xx

Is it possible to get a false positive with a rapid test?


I was recently diagnosed with abdominal TB after surgery. The doctor filled out a lab form requesting I take an ELISA test but the public clinic only takes rapid tests. I have been recovering very well for the past month and I want to know if rapid tests are as reliable as the ELISA test? Is there a chance of false positive results with a rapid test? Is it possible for HIV positive TB patients to recover without ARVs?

Should I be worried if I get flu-like symptoms?


I’m male, 30 years old, diagnosed as HIV positive in April of this year. I have a CD4 count of 360 and a viral load of 5000.

I wanted to ask what should I do, or how worried should I be if I get cold or flu-like symptoms? Due to the nature of my job, I often get throat infections/sore throats, but more recently have felt a bit chesty, run-down and headachey. Normally, I wouldn’t worry and would expect to get better after some rest and relaxation but since my diagnosis, I’m wondering what should I do when I feel ill?

What options are there other than sperm washing?

I am a HIV negative woman married to an HIV positive man. My question is are there organisations that help finance IVF and sperm washing?

My husband who is positive has a child form a previous relationship and under NHS funding guidelines if you have a child from a previous relationship then you do not qualify for any funding. The GUM clinic said they can apply for sperm washing under risk reduction but that won’t cover IVF treatment and due to some infertility tests done on me, I will need to have IVF therefore the chances of conceiving naturally even if we tried are slim.

I am in no position to afford the treatment, we both are on low income and below so it could take us 2 years to save up for the treatment. The PCT won’t even put an application for us.

Please help if you have any information

What do these viral load differences mean?


I’m a 30 year-old male not yet on therapy and I have a question regarding my viral load. The monitoring on my CD4 and viral load is being done monthly and VL was Feb: ~18,000 Mar: ~20,000 Apr: 23,000 May: 17,000.

Is it possible for the viral load to decrease or is it more likely a lab error? If it’s possible to decrease the viral load, is there an explanation about it?

I haven’t spoken to my doctor yet but I asked the secretary for the lab results. Meanwhile I would like to know if you have some insights to me. Thank you very much.

Why am I putting on weight?

I have known my status for about 8 years and started medication a year ago. The name of the medication am on is Truvada and nevirapine. My question is, I have put on weight since I started this medicine, do you think it could be because of the medication as I haven’t changed my diet? I did talk with my doctor she told me that it’s not the medicine but I don’t agree with this answer. Can someone help because I am so stressed out? I am 34 years old and 5:1 tall

How do I educate my negative partner that we can still have sex safely?


I had a few questions for you about HIV discordant couples, when one partner is HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative.

I recently tested positive for HIV a few weeks ago. It has been tough on me and my partner who is still negative. My partner says he will never have sex with me again (and that’s fine with me after all it is his choice) but I have tried educating him on the fact that if we use safe sex he will not contract it but I still can’t change his mind.

We have been dating off and on for a year now, I had a one night stand about 7 months ago and apparently got it from that guy (although I have seen his recent test papers and he is negative) so my partner and I have been having unprotected sex since then but he still has not contracted it. I think because I am a bottom he is at a much lower risk.

I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to educate my partner and to let him know if we have safe sex he will remain HIV negative.

If I am pregnant can I take AZT on its own?


Thanks for this site once more.

I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant. My viral load is 5000 and CD4 286. I’ve been taking AZT since 28 weeks in to my pregnancy. I want to know how effective is the AZT because I’m not ready yet for a lifetime of ARVs?

I’m currently taking AZT alone, is it good for my baby or should I consider another combination?

What is a 4th generation HIV test?

Good Afternoon,

I have just looked through the Q & A pages but I am a little bit unsure about one thing.

I live in the midlands and have asked a few clinics if they do they p24 tests I’m guessing this is the 4th generation test? However they are all giving me different information. Some websites say wait 28 days exactly. Others say repeat after 3 months and I have seen on your website that 3-4 weeks after exposure is good enough?

I am feeling a little bit confused. Also if going to a private clinic are there any questions I can ask to make sure it’s legitimate establishment?


Have I re-infected my partner?

Me and my partner got diagnosed for HIV type 1 last week. I know he very, very likely caught it from me unfortunately. So does this mean we have the same strain and resistance? I only ask because my boyfriend’s CD4 levels were much lower than mine but then he is older so that might have had something to do with it.

I’m panicking that I might have re-infected him! I feel so guilty as he doesn’t deserve this and I think knowing I’d re-infected him would make it so much worse. Thanks in advance :)

Should I have a PCR or a Duo test?

Hi there.

I will not go into great detail about what has happened as I’m not sure exactly what did. I’m so scared that I might have picked up something that I am going out of my mind.

A doctor has told me to have a PCR – RNA kind of test. It’s quiet expensive and then I was told I had to go back and have a HIV duo test which is another hundred quid.

I want to know if I had this test is it conclusive, the PCR or can I have 2 p24 tests.

My so-called exposure was 1 week ago. So could I have a HIV DUO next week and have a near accurate result and then just chase it up in 2 weeks?

Is peripheral neuropathy a side effect of Atripla?

Hi there,

I have been on Atripla for just a year now, I am in remission at the moment from cancer, I had Briketts lymphoma. The treatment worked really well but I have developed peripheral neuropathy – when the nerves in my feet and hands have been affected.

It could be the chemotherapy that has caused this but I had it very mildly before I had chemotherapy. It’s getting worse everyday, I am on Lyrica 150mgs twice a day but it is getting worse.

Sorry to go on but is peripheral neuropathy a side effect of Atripla? My HIV doctor is very reluctant to change my HIV medication but I am really afraid that it will just get worse and worse

I look forward to hearing from you


I am having trouble taking ARVs, when should I start a new combination?

What is the advised time to be off treatment before starting new meds, after 2 lots of meds not working for me?

I was diagnosed as HIV positive in 2004 with CD4 770 and VL: 4,000 and In mid may this year 2010 started treatment with a CD4 of 350 and viral load 154,0000.

I was first put on Truvada and Sustiva and had a bad rash reaction, then I was put on Truvada, atazanavir and ritonavir and had a bad reaction to these, not being able to keep food down. Over a period of a week and a half I was sick 15 times, so my doctor stopped me on these meds on 8th June.

After stopping the meds I had a bad week of constipation and lead to me needing a nurse to come around and give me an enema.

I am only just starting to get back to normal and need to build up my body strength before starting the new meds. My doctor is going to put me on Truvada, atazanavir – but higher dose than before, and raltegravir.

Can you please tell me what timescale would be best to start meds again?

Thank you

I take efavirenz and just found out I am pregnant…

I currently taking Atripla and I have just found out that I am pregnant. When i started taking my meds i was told by my doctor that if i was planing to get pregnant i should stop taking Atripla. As this pregnancey was not plan i have an implant fitted & use condoms but nothing seem to be 100% hence me finding out im pregnant.

At the moment im not sure what im going to do about the situation, as its friday night & i wont be able to speak to my docter until monday so i dont know if i should keep on taking my meds or not… I’m confused.

Please help.

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