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First Person: Ford Warrick

First Person: Ford Warrick

January 2006

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Why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do, your history with HIV and your diagnosis?

My name is Ford Warrick, and I am 40 years old. I was diagnosed with HIV in 1993. At the time, I was a student and I was uninsured. I basically went from clinical trial to clinical trial, getting on different medications -- just whatever I qualified for. Because I didn't have insurance, I wasn't eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, or anything like that. So I went along that way for several years.

I had the various side effects that you have when you're on AZT [zidovudine, Retrovir] or Epivir [3TC, lamivudine], or the other early HIV medications. I went along fine for years, and really didn't have a whole lot of health problems. I had a bout with shingles. I had some thrush at one time, things like that. My lab work, however, was bad. I went from HIV infection to AIDS diagnosis within six months. My CD4 went down to 50. My viral load was sky high. For some reason, it just happened to hit my system really quickly.

Ford Warrick 

About Ford Warrick

Did you ever get an explanation for why that happened?

No. My doctor didn't really have an explanation. I knew exactly when I had been infected and, like I said, it's not like I had had it for a long time and not known. I knew when I was infected and for some reason it was one of these situations where, shortly after I was infected, I got severe flu symptoms [and] became very sick. That cleared up, but then, like I said, my lab work just went bad really quickly. Initially, my CD4 was 500, then it went down to 300, then 200, and it just kept dropping. My viral load wasn't changing; it was just up there.

Then slowly, it kind of stopped. My labs kind of stabilized and it slowly started to climb. But, like I said, even though my labs were really bad, I didn't have a lot of health problems. It was kind of odd, because the doctor's telling you you're in bad shape, but you don't feel like you're in bad shape. You know, you feel pretty normal.

So that went on for quite some time. Then I got insurance when I got out of school. I [got] on a regular med regimen. My labs improved. But for years, when I was on regular meds, my viral load never went down to undetectable because I didn't go on a protease inhibitor. My doctor recommended -- and I agreed with him -- that as long as my viral load stayed low -- which, at that time, was 3,000 -- that we [not] mess with it. We were going to stick with these medications. So we avoided going on the protease inhibitors for quite some time.

The logic behind that was to spare the protease inhibitors, in case you needed them at some point in the future?

Exactly. As long as my health was okay, and my viral load was low, we wanted to hold off, in case [the meds] stopped working. Because we were worried that we were not sure how long these medications were going to be effective. So our idea was: Let's keep everything in our arsenal until we need it. Eventually, in about 2000, I started taking a protease inhibitor. I was on a regimen of Kaletra [lopinavir/ritonavir] + Viread [tenofovir] + Epivir. That's when I went to undetectable. But that's also when the lipoatrophy really kicked in, or I started noticing it in my extremities. But it really didn't bother me that much because it didn't look that bad.

What did you notice, in particular? Was it in your arms and legs?

Yes. My arms and legs started getting veiny. I've always worked out and have been pretty muscular. So the veins kind of looked like I had been working out a lot, and it didn't really bother me that much. But when it started affecting my face and I started getting comments on it, that's when it started upsetting me. I went through a period -- I guess it was around 2002 or 2003 -- where I had some kind of GI [gastrointestinal] problem, and I lost 30 pounds. That, combined with the lipo, made me look really bad, and I got a lot of people coming up to me, saying, "What's wrong with you? Are you sick? You need to gain weight." You know, all of these types of comments.

"I went from HIV infection to AIDS diagnosis within six months. My CD4 went down to 50, my viral load was sky high -- it just happened to hit my system really quickly."

Did you feel that people identified that look as the AIDS look? Or was it more general than that?

No. I live in Greensboro, N.C. I don't think that people here, the general population, are very savvy when it comes to HIV. I don't think that they recognized it as that. I think that if I went to a major city, they would recognize that. But I don't think the people around where I live really recognized what it was. I don't think that most people here have ever heard of lipoatrophy, so I don't think that it was that. They just knew that something wasn't right.

Then you said that you got sick and lost a lot of weight?

Yeah. Around 2002 or 2003, I had some kind of GI problem that they never could figure out, and I lost 30 pounds. Combined with the lipo, I looked really bad. I managed to gain the weight back, but the lipo never improved. So even though I was gaining weight, I was still getting comments that I was too thin, that I looked tired, [and questions such as], "Is something wrong with you?" These types of comments.

Over a period of time of having that experience, of people responding to you that way, what's the cumulative effect of it?

Well, the way it affected me was, I felt self-conscious. There were certain people who I avoided seeing because they hadn't seen me in a while and I didn't want them to see me looking bad, and I didn't want the questions associated with it. I think that I, kind of without knowing it, stopped looking people in the eye. When I was working with patients and things like that -- I'm a mental health counselor -- there were certain people who, I could tell, were studying my face, trying to figure out what's wrong, or "Why do you look this way?" You know? I even had a couple of people comment on it. I had one person say, "Your face looks odd. You look like you should be on Star Trek." This, of course, didn't help my self-esteem. I would look on the Internet, researching lipoatrophy, trying to find: Is there anything in the works in terms of a cure for this? Do they know what causes lipoatrophy? There didn't seem to be a lot of progress.

What did your doctor say?

My doctor basically said, "There's nothing that I'm aware of that can help this. We can change your meds if you want to, but I don't know of anything specifically that's going to help with this problem."

Was he aware of which meds were causing it?


No. I actually -- because I had researched it online -- think that I knew more about it than he did. He had contacted specialists, but several years ago, they really didn't know what meds were causing it, exactly. They suspected that it was certain meds, but they didn't really know.

So, let me ask you. Have you been on d4T (stavudine, Zerit)?


You were on Epivir.


Were you on AZT, as well?


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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Soars (Brasília, Brasil) Thu., Aug. 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm UTC
It's really good this interview and helped me with some doubts about lipoatrophy. Thanks for everything.
I'm a 22 years old boy that had just find out the HIV.
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Comment by: Gabriel (Rio de Janeiro) Wed., May. 25, 2011 at 3:17 am UTC
Hello I am Brazilian, I am HIV+ and have received treatment with PMMA. Most PMMA used in Brazil is manufactured in Brazil. There are different brands of PMMA but Im aware only 3 are approved for use in Brazil by ANVISA which is same as FDA here in Brazil, the brands are named Biossimetric, MetaCryll and NewPlastic and available in form 2% - 30% concentration depending on brand used. Also be careful of clinics throught Latin America that mix PMMA with other products, which can be common with un-reputable cheap "doctors". Dr Márcio Serra is very famous in Brazil he is consultants in lipodystrophy for the Brazilian National Program. Also if you are looking for other reputable Brazilian plastic surgeons use society of brazilian plastic surgeons website (Sociedade Brasileira de Cirurgia Plástica) to check registration.
- I hope this info is of help if you think to come in Brazil for treatment.
I wish you all good and safe health x
PS Sorry for my English :)

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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: José (Montreal - Canada) Sun., May. 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm UTC
Hi Gabriel, thank you for your kind comment/info on PMMA. I have read about Dr. Marcio Serra and seems a very professional and compassionate person when it comes to dealing with his patients. I would love to find out what are the prices for injecting PMMA in my face, legs and buttocks, I've had a similar experience to lipoatrophy as Ford has (it has been extremely difficult for me)...I love your country but do not know anyone in Brazil, don't know where to stay, how much would everything cost, how long should one stay in Rio to acomplish good results???...I understand this is done in at least two visits (which makes everything even more costly). At the moment I am not working, I have not done so for a while (taking care of my health), I am a canadian citizen and Venezuelan as well, is there a plan that would partially cover these treatments for people in my position?...Once again, thank you so much for your reply and help, love to see myself like a 'normal' looking guy again!
Thanks...Thank you so much!

Comment by: michael n. (toronto canada) Sat., Jan. 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm UTC
thank you to ford warrick for you honest and insightful interview, a freind is dealing with this issue and i have refered him to this sight, best of wishes, to you and your partner
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Comment by: pedro (costa rica) Fri., Jun. 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm UTC
this has been verry helpfull since i've undergone those problems in my face, my butt, legs ond arms. i'm pretty sure that if want to do somethin about it i also have to go to brazil to try and find this doctor Márcio Serra, but first of all i have to save up before going but i wonder haw can i get in touch with him
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Gabriel (Rio de Janeiro) Wed., May. 25, 2011 at 3:30 am UTC
Hola - I hope you are well, here is his website
you can email him on the page.
I made a comment abt PMMA but hasnt gone on the site i dont think, anyway if you use another DR in south america the only 3 brands of PMMA approved in Brazil is Biossimetric, MetaCryll (Metacrill) and NewPlastic. Be carefull of cheaper doctors in Latin America mixing PMMA with other things, is more common in Mexico, Central America and Colombia, however im sure there are good ones there also.
Good luck...bjs

Comment by: M. Bell (Rockford, Il) Wed., Apr. 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm UTC
Hello Ford,

I have been diagnosed with HIV since 2003. My partner has had AIDS for 20+ years and has noticed the changes in his face. He is native American and quite a handsome guy. We have been talking about the procedure to fill in the parts of his face effected. We both work for social services and at this point have been working for free since last July. Needless to say, money is tight. What is the cost and is there any assistance for the procedure? You obviously had great success with the procedure as your face and body look great. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.
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Comment by: Wed., Mar. 24, 2010 at 10:21 am UTC
If you want to hear from Ford, drop him an e-mail at the e-mail address you get to when you click on the link in the sentence above that reads "Click here to e-mail Ford Warrick." These comments are NOT a reliable way of getting in touch with interviewees, but their e-mails may be!
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Comment by: Wed., Mar. 24, 2010 at 4:20 am UTC
I would like to hear from Ford and L. Martin from Toronto. I am considering Dr. Marcio Serra in Brazil for my legs and would like some encouragement and testimonies.
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Comment by: Michael (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Fri., Sep. 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm UTC
I've had Sculptra so many times now I can't even begin to count them. I would be interested in a more permanent solution if it could be available locally, or at least in this country. I would feel more assured that the treatment would not be risky in terms of the filler migrating south. I am especially interested in the treatment for the buttocks and would like to know more about the long term effects of having the buttocks injected.
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Comment by: Geoffrey (Ft Lauderdale, Florida) Thu., Sep. 10, 2009 at 11:56 am UTC
Saw the web site listened to your comments,, takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there.
Have had Radiesse but it lasted only a few months and cost $500.00 a syringe. Took three in each temple and three in each cheek. It cost a lot. I am interested in your experience, you must be swamped with requests. Geoffrey Grabner

thanks and keep the faith
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Comment by: L.martin (Toronto.Canada) Tue., May. 5, 2009 at 8:55 am UTC
Hi, i am made an appointement with Dr. Marcio Serra in Brazil to do my legs and butt now in may 2009. I am a little afraid and would like to have more information of people who did this treatment, any side effects after. Please if you have pictures fo legs and butts done i would love to see the results. Thank you very much
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Comment by: saul (Atlanta) Wed., Mar. 25, 2009 at 9:47 am UTC
After 40, remember folks, sometimes things happen with AGE....and it's not lipoatrophy. That's just something to keep in mind....
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Comment by: RONNIE (MEMPHIS) Sat., Mar. 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm UTC
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Comment by: David (Spain) Tue., Feb. 17, 2009 at 6:04 am UTC
Hi Ford,
I am 44 years old and my partner is 38. He is been taking Truvada and Sustiva for 16 months and he's ok and his CD4 are 500 and viral load under 50, but I have realized little changes in his face: black circles under the eyes, and he looks as he has woke up after a crazy night withou sleeping well. What do you think about? is a signal of getting lipoatrophy in the future?
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Comment by: dorothy (kenya) Thu., Oct. 16, 2008 at 5:10 am UTC
What about people who are not yet on ARVS and still get lipoatrophy? What is the course and how can they prevent or control it?
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