HealthJanuary 02, 2020

Ending HIV together: A doctor's journey

Dr. Slotten

To commemorate World AIDS Day, we interviewed Ross Slotten, MD, a family practitioner specializing in the care of people with HIV/AIDS in Chicago. He reflects on his nearly 40 years of experience with this disease in a new memoir, Plague Years: A Doctor’s Journey through the AIDS Crisis, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in May 2020.

Caring for people with HIV has drastically evolved over the past decades with ART and PrEP. To this day, however, some people don’t attain viral suppression because they don’t adhere to their medication regimen. According to Dr. Slotten, there are some reasons why this happens:

  • Young people have never known anyone sick or dying of AIDS.
  • People are in denial of the severity of the disease.
  • They can’t afford the medication. They have high copays, so they stop.
  • People get depressed and want to die for other reasons.
  • Lapses in insurance coverage.
  • Gaps in coverage while switching insurance companies.
  • They became resistant to one medication, and the next regimen is more complicated for them to follow.
  • And even if people take their pills mostly on schedule, if they miss more than 10% of the time, they are likely to become resistant to that particular medication and the virus will come back.
Ending HIV Together
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