December 1, 2011
For our World AIDS Day 2011 section, we wanted to capture the diversity of the AIDS community. So, we reached out to people across the world -- regular contributors and those who have never written for us before -- and asked them to guest blog. These columns are written by people who are living with HIV, have been affected by HIV, or work in the field.
Every Dec. 1, since 1988, has marked the day when the world unites in solidarity against HIV/AIDS. I started the 2011 World AIDS Day by speaking to 145 students at the British School of Chicago.
At the end of my talk, there was a Q & A with the older students. One of the students asked me, "If someone is really sick with like 60 T cells, when they find out they have HIV, how long can they live?" I think what he was really asking was, "How long are you going to live?"
I had already told them that when I found out I was positive, I had a T-cell count of 123 and a diagnosis of AIDS. His question made me think. What I told them is that we know that, if someone is diagnosed today, they can expect to live to a normal life expectancy (on treatment) and that I lumped myself into that group. Of course, now that I am out of the spotlight, so to speak, I have time to reflect.
Who knows what the future will bring? Will my lowered T-cell count (now at 740) and late start on medication mean that living into my 70s isn't going to be a reality? It's possible. Could I realistically be in my second to last decade on this planet? Possibly. For now, I feel great, and I will continue to live my life with purpose and with passion. I will make a difference in the lives of those around me, and better myself when possible. This is my life; I am making the best of it and will continue doing so until the curtain call comes!
I am reminded of a quote by John Wesley that sums it up very nicely.
"Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can." -- John Wesley
Richard Cordova is the director of athletic events at Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN), a transformational speaker, a spin instructor, and a host for Gay Chicago TV. He also answers questions on TheBody.com's "Ask the Experts" forum on Safe Sex and HIV Prevention.
Read more of Positive Indeed, Richard's blog, on TheBody.com.