Postcards from three HIVers' treatment holiday:

Monica Johnson, 37
Columbia, Louisiana
Volunteer CEO, HEROES
Currently ON meds

VITAL STATS

Diagnosed: 1989

Before HAART: 700 CD4s, viral load unknown

Before break: Combivir and Crixivan; 650 CD4s, undetectable viral load

Length of break: 1 year

Before restarting meds: 650 CD4s; 80,000 viral load

Current combo and stats: Combivir and Sustiva; 902 CD4s, undetectable viral load
Took a break because:
 I was tired of being on the drugs. Plus, I found out that I probably shouldn't have started at all, given my high CD4 count.
How she spent vacation: I did nothing special, other than getting blood work every two months.
Back on meds because:
 Neither I nor my doctor were aware of the latest facts about STIs, and my doctor started freaking out when my viral load hit 10,000.
How she's doing:
Fine. I've switched drugs due to kidney problems. I'm glad to be on a twice-daily regimen now.
P.S.: Before my break, I thought I could probably take one, but no one would listen. Then I met a doctor who told me to try it. Finally finding someone with initials after her name who agreed gave me the courage.

Scott Williams, 34

Associate editor in chief, Academic Physician and Scientist
Currently OFF meds

Diagnosed: 1995

Before HAART: 400 CD4s, 3,000 viral load

Before break: Viracept, d4T, ddI and hydroxyurea; 400 CD4s, 3,000 viral load

Length of break: three years and counting

Current stats: 520 CD4s, 10,000 viral load
Took a break because:
 I was feeling shitty between liver toxicity, neuropathy, Viracept runs and lipoatrophy in my face and legs. But even before these symptoms, I was contemplating giving my body a rest, and my doctor agreed. 
How he spent vacation: I've taken some workshops in Reiki, a form of hands-on healing. A year ago, I quit my Madison Avenue job, which was too stressful. Now I have saner 9-to-5 job. 
Not back on meds because:
 9/11 said to me there's so much in life that we have no control over. 
How she's doing:
Fine. I've switched drugs due to kidney problems. I'm glad to be on a twice-daily regimen now.
P.S.: Before my break, I thought I could probably take one, but no one would listen. Then I met a doctor who told me to try it. Finally finding someone with initials after her name who agreed gave me the courage.