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live with hiv at 26
Jul 10, 2007

I found out yesterday that I was hiv+. To be honest, today 7-7-7, suppose to be the luckiest day of the year, it's the first full day I've lived "knowing" that I have hiv.

I have heard from people that I have talked to in the past, that HIV is like living with diabetes now days. Is that completely crazy or some what true?

I can live with it, luckily right?... but I do worry about how long I will live now. I don't expect to live for ever, even without hiv, but is there even a way to know now? Should I think 10 years? or 20? or should I not even think about it at all. That's the biggest thing. I know I could be killed in a car accident or have a heart attack first, but I'm 26 now. Thus my reason for asking. Of course it depends on meds and my individual case, but overall speaking, what can you say doc? I trust your answers.

I'm not sure if I can post more than one question BUT, do antioxidants help? They would help kill the free radicals and help slow down HIV by doing that right? I'm thinking about this they say that Muscadine grapes really are something else. I know, all unfounded as far as "studies" but your thoughts?

I can't wait to hear back from you.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. I remember the day I got my positive test and it was full of uncertainties. Of course that was January 1991, which was still considered the "dark ages" as far as the pandemic is concerned. I remember many questions flooded to mind. Could or should I continue to practice medicine? (I did.) Were my days as a "mean lovin' machine" over? (No, they weren't.) Was I ready to die? (Although I didn't fear "whatever comes next," I wasn't ready for whatever it was just yet.)

So, can you coexist with HIV in 2007? Yes, I believe you can with the proper attitude and the help of a competent and compassionate HIV specialist. Is living with HIV like living with diabetes? No, unfortunately it's not and those who say it is obviously don't have HIV/AIDS! Life with HIV can be challenging and it's full of unknowns, such as the unknowns of the short- and long-term side effects and toxicities of our HIV medications or the unknowns of when our current drugs may suddenly stop working, etc. Also the stigma, fear and ignorance that surround HIV/AIDS are vastly different from all other ailments, including diabetes. However, that said, I believe those of us who are "virally enhanced" and alive today have every reason to be optimistic. New and hopefully better tolerated and more effective anti-HIV therapies are continuing to be developed and approved. So do you have 10 years? 20 years? No one knows, as none of our crystal balls are infallible. (Except maybe Professor Trelawney's.) However, personally I plan to die of old age. Care to join me? In the meantime, take a read through the information that can be accessed on The Body's homepage under Quick Links. There you will find a wealth of information, including a whole chapter entitled "Just Diagnosed."

As for antioxidants, well, you are correct: we don't have good scientific studies specific to HIV. There is no doubt they help clear free radicals, which is a good thing in general. As for muscadine grapes, the natural compound "resveratrol" appears to be the active agent. It's found not only in certain grapes, but also in mulberries, peanuts and other plants. There are claims it may protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease by acting as an antioxidant, antimutagen and anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown it extends the lifespan of yeast cells and mice. Does it do anything for or against HIV? In reality we don't know yet. But stay tuned. This product is indeed being looked at. In the meantime, rather than pay for high-priced nutritional supplements, why not stick to a nice glass of red wine with dinner?

I'm raising a glass of Merlot as I type this to toast your ongoing good health.


Dr. Bob

Is there any chance

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