HIV Cocktail Drugs = Salt Water Comparison Question

I’ve read on more than a few websites that say if you want to know what it feels like to be on HIV cocktail drugs try drinking a glass of salt water 3 times a day for a week and you’ll find out.

First of all would this be an accurate comparison and if so why?

Second of all it doesn’t tell you how much salt to put in the water?

And third what would the effects be?

Or is this just another example internet myth or garbage websites?

On what sites did you read this? The side effects from HIV antiretroviral therapy are variable, depending on the person and the specific drugs. Some people have terrible side effects and some have few. I’ve never heard the saltwater comparison.

The only thing I know about drinking salt water (that is, salt with water added, not saltwater from the ocean) is that it makes a fantastic laxative. Especially warm salt water. It also makes you feel like puking if it’s at all strong.

I don’t know if this is the feature the comparison is speaking of or not.

Sounds suspect to me.

Understand that HIV “cocktail” drugs are combination pills containing 2 or even 3 separate active ingredients, to simplify dosing and reduce patient confusion. They are not actual liquid cocktails.

As jillgat pointed out, side-effects are widely variable depending on the drug and the individual, but overall they’ve replaced some of the nastier older drugs with more effective ones, often with lesser side-effects.

QtM, freshly back from an HIV lecture in Atlanta.

The point of the sites was that a lot of young gay people now have the attitude, hey I don’t have to worry about HIV and if I get it I’ll just take the meds.

Of course I do know a few people personally that do well on them and have no side effects even after 10 years. But most people on them have enormous issues being on them.

So I think the salt water comparison is an attempt to get people to realize that most if not virtually all people will have side effects and the salt water would be an approximation of what it would be like to be on the HIV meds.

So the question is what kind of effects could drinking the salt water have? I know that many people on the drugs have the diarrhea and nausea.

I don’t know about salt water, but I have worked with people living with AIDS for a long time. The drugs are now easier to take and some are much safer and have less side effects than before, but the treatment is no trivial deal. Many people get diarrhea and other uncomfortable symptoms and some develop serious problems like sky-high trigliceride levels, body fat re-distribution, pancreatitis, liver problems and other stuff. Some of these issues are medication related and some are drug and HIV related. Developing resistance to a drug and having to try a new regimen is not uncommon. New therapies are coming out all the time, but none of them is a cure and it’s no picnic being on them.

The dilemma is that we want to encourage people who are infected to get care early, to get counseling to stop the spread of the disease and to be monitored so that they can get on treatment when it will be most effective for them. The drugs have dramatically improved and extended life for people with HIV. The pharmaceutical companies want everybody who has HIV and is immunosupppressed to get on the meds too, for some other obvious reasons. So the ads for HIV drugs often show buff guys playing volley ball and rock climbing and one might see these and think, huh, HIV isn’t such a bad thing to have after all.

But it’s also important to get across the idea that people with HIV still often experience serious side effects from the drugs, can develop resistance to the treatments and people are still dying from HIV/AIDS.

Comparing antiretroviral drugs to drinking salt water is pretty simplistic and inaccurate, though.

Here’s a pretty good overview of the HIV/AIDS combination drugs and common or possible side effects:

Yeah, it’s probably the diarrhea they’re talking about then. Salt water cleans you out really quickly and uncomfortably - like so quickly that you might want to be sitting ON the toilet when you drink a glass of salt water, because by the time it’s done, you will be shitting water and feces and, if you repeat the salt water enough, mucus from your gut. It’s quick and intense and unstoppable. It’s also accompanied by a lot of gurgling and some cramping, so it’s not pleasant. Still, I’d rather that than HIV, thank you!

Thanks for the answer Jill and others. While you make excellent points, as you pointed out in your post, young people don’t care about dry statistics.

One bout of cholera like diarrhea is worth a thousand times as much as the best written fact page

Thanks everyone