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Just Fine

December 9, 2011

As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, takes stock of 2011 in a new series of articles, "2011 HIV/AIDS Year in Review." Read the entire series here.

Philip D.

Philip D.

I know it's been quite some time since I posted an entry here. Admittedly, the content of my previous post was a bit on the gloomy side but the experience of writing it evolved into something surprisingly cathartic. I'm lucky to have lived to tell the tale and I am forever grateful that my days of running from the Devil are behind me.

It might make for a somewhat more interesting entry; to gripe about how I hate to take my meds every single night but then I remember the 25 million people who would have given everything they had to take the drugs modern science has provided me.

I could lament about how I fear having blood drawn or having to go to the doctor every four months and pay thousands of dollars a year out of pocket to test the chemistry of said blood but then I remember that my recent CD4 numbers are over 800, my cholesterol is lower now than it was before I started my HAART (thanks, Complera) and that in many ways I'm healthier than I was before HIV.


I could squawk about how I hate spending thousands of dollars each year for health insurance that covers virtually nothing because of a high deductible but then I realize that I'm healthy and strong enough to go to work and make the money required to make those monthly payments.

I could bitch about how HIV has kidnapped my libido but then I think about how lonely I was before I tested positive. I made have had plenty of action but I looked over potential mates for silly reasons, again and again. It's hard to admit but I'm almost certain, my man John would not have "got through" the wall I had built up around me if The Virus not left me as vulnerable as it did.

You may recall that I am an admitted, lifelong pessimist in recovery; so when I say that things have never been better, you really have no reason to doubt me. I'd even go as far as to say that if my life continued on the way that it was in November of 2007, before HIV, it would not be as rich and full of possibility, as it is right now. Wow. Did I just type that?

It's true. Exploring my "secret writer side" by doing this blog and returning to college might never have materialized if HIV hadn't rocked my world like it did. I had never written anything for public consumption until I did it here and I doubt I ever would have, if life hadn't thrown me this major curve.

I could go on but I think you get the point. For better or for worse, whether I asked for it or deserved it, contracting HIV has not been all bad. My friend Everett, a former counselor with Shanti, once told me that in all the interviews of HIV-positive people that he's done since 1997, that the one thing more of them say than anything else is that HIV made them look at the parts of their life that they had most been avoiding. The same is probably true of anyone with a potentially life threatening disease but I suppose that's the silver lining to the dark cloud that follows each of us, until there's a cure.

As we come to the end of 2011, I'm grateful for all of the good changes HIV has brought into my life and the much needed kick in the ass that it provided me. I know I'd much rather be HIV negative, but these days, I'm doing just fine.

"After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. ... I have been so incredibly fortunate, I feel like I must pay it forward somehow. Maybe by sharing my experience, it will help those starting later in the game, on the fast track to HAART, or anyone that's feeling a bit isolated or 'stuck' with their diagnosis."

Read more of A Positive Spin, Philip's blog, on

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Pat (Dublin, Ireland.) Fri., Jan. 6, 2012 at 6:39 am UTC
I agree with Philip that "contracting HIV has not been all bad". It has been very very very bad, but, yes, it has certainly not been ALL bad.

I cannot identify with the poster above, however, who says 'I tend to think HIV was nothing more than a "kick in the ass."' I've had lots of "kicks in the ass" in my life and contracting HIV is far more serious. Maybe the writer is just being flippant or provocative.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Philip D. (San Francisco) Wed., Jan. 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm UTC
Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to this post. I'm sorry you've had a rough time of it.

Please make no mistake; contracting HIV was probably the most devastating occurrence in my adult life. My intention was not to be flip. Instead, to provide hope; particularly those recently infected. I want them to know it's more than possible to find and stay on a simple, effective regimen with little or no side effects and lead a good life; even with HIV. And that it might be worth looking for a silver lining.

I wish you only the best in 2012.

Comment by: Kirk (Dallas, TX) Fri., Dec. 30, 2011 at 11:41 am UTC
You made me smile during this dificult time. Thanks for your encouragement and reminder. Sometimes, things are better than they appear.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Philip D. (San Francisco) Wed., Jan. 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm UTC
I'm glad if I helped.

Thanks for reading my blog and commenting every once in a while.

Take good care, Kirk.

Comment by: Juan (San Antonio) Thu., Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm UTC
Thanks for sharing. I've had a trying year in 2011, but I hope 2012 is better. Take care.
Reply to this comment

Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco, CA) Tue., Dec. 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm UTC
Good to read another post from you, Philip. Like you, I'm a pessimist, but I don't claim to be recovered. I honestly don't find much good in being HIV+. The only thing I'll say is that when one is confronted with a life-changing event like an HIV diagnosis, one has two choices. One can either fall apart under the strain, or one can find a way to cope and go on. You've chosen the latter course.

In my view, even before HIV, you had the ability to make your life "as rich and full of possibility as it is right now." It happened to be an HIV diagnosis that spurred you to action, but it might well have been something else, some other transformative event. In short, I tend to think HIV was nothing more than a "kick in the ass." The inner strength you've discovered as a result was there all along.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever locate your kidnapped libido, please let me know. I think mine is probably being held in the same "secure, undisclosed location" as yours. ;-)
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Philip D. (San Francisco) Wed., Jan. 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm UTC
Thanks for your kind words and unique perspective.

It would seem that "lick in the ass" was a very poor choice of words, on my part.

What?!? I thought I read you had got your groove back?

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