I’m Kendrick, and I’m a 60-year-old straight man from Jamaica. I am also HIV+ and have been living with HIV for many years. Because I take my HIV meds every day, my HIV has been undetectable, and I’ve felt really good, but suddenly I began feeling pretty sick again. It reminded me of how my body felt before I found out I had AIDS. Anyway, I kept on taking my meds, but my health was getting worse! When I finally made an appointment to see a doctor, the doc told me my viral load was high. It didn’t make any sense because I wasn’t doing anything different and the doc had a hard time trusting me when I told him I never missed taking a dose of my meds.
I shared what was happening to me with my Case Manager at Broward House. She believed me and couldn’t understand why my HIV meds weren’t working for me. After talking with me, she pointed out that I often mentioned that I drink “bush.” It’s a kind of herb tea we drink in Jamaica. She did some research on the tea. The next time I saw her, she told me the tea is also known as cerasee and that it can cause problems with the effectiveness of my HIV treatment. She recommended I stop drinking bush and share with my doc and within a few months, I’m undetectable again! And I feel so much better now because my HIV meds are working again. I learned that I need to be careful about what herbs or supplements I take, and now I make sure to talk to my doctor about these things.