My name is Emma, I am now 41 and I live in Cardiff, UK. I was diagnosed HIV+ in May 2011. This came as a complete shock because I had just come out of a 12 year relationship. My CD4 count was very high at the time and my viral load was minimal. I really didn’t know much about the subject until then, only what was in the media, really, and what was taught in school. It completely changed my world from that day.
At first I didn’t seem too bad, but the following year in June my CD4 count had dropped to 300 and I was advised to start treatment. At this point I knew nothing compared to now so I began taking medication. I tried two different combinations, but neither agreed with me. I was then prescribed Stribild, which I did manage to persevere with for a while. I still had terrible headaches, my muscles would ache, I had horrible night sweats and I just felt miserable all the time. I subconsciously knew it couldn’t be good for me but my CD4 count went back up and I had undetectable viral load!
In January 2016 I met someone who mentioned that there was another side to the story about HIV-AIDS. I was instantly addicted to the information I had been told. I began researching for hours everyday for advice and information from other people who were actually living without HIV medication. I have used social media to communicate with hundreds of other people who have, quite frankly, saved my life.
I began weaning myself off the tablets straight away and by the middle of February 2016 I was completely off them. I have changed my diet to a much healthier one and I eat only organic food as much as I possibly can. I drink lots of organic herbal tea and drink lots of fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies. My first drink of the day is always lemon water with Turmeric root, fresh grated ginger and raw organic welsh honey. I eat a lot of chia and hemp seeds. I add spirulina and cracked cell wall chlorella to a lot of my foods. I also take high strength vitamin C supplements (organic from food). During the first month while I was weaning myself off the medication I added a dessert spoonful [2 teaspoons] of ‘Black seed oil’ to my smoothies to give my body and immune system an extra kick.
At first I did notice a bit of aching in my lymph nodes but after a little bit of research I discovered it was perfectly normal because the medication I had been taking had actually stopped my lymph nodes from working and the aching was them coming back to life! I found comfort in this and carried on. I can honestly say that I have not had any medical conditions since I stopped taking the medication, I haven’t even had a common cold! I feel heathier now than I did before I was diagnosed. I have also taken up yoga and I have a keen interest in crystal healing.
The hospital was not aware of my decision to stop my medication in February 2016 and I certainly didn’t go to them for advice on the matter. I went to the hospital in October 2016 because I was curious and I needed to let them know I would not be continuing treatment. As you can imagine it went down like a lead balloon! My CD4 count was just below 500 and, yes, I have a viral load. This does not concern me because everyone on this planet has a viral load and it’s normal. I discussed with them why I did not believe in their tests and why I came to my decision. Although my doctor was not happy when I refused to go in every three weeks for tests, she has respected my wishes. I don’t think it’s good for my mental health to have tests every three weeks which tell me a bunch of numbers which ultimately don’t prove anything. I am the best judge of how my health is doing.
My family and children support my decision. They say I’m very brave but I think we all are. If we are going to change the way this world views this subject then we need to keep sharing our stories and letting others in our situation know there is another way. This has been a very personal and emotional journey and one I wouldn’t want to change. It has made me grow as a person and I will keep going.
Thank you for reading my story.