Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Body Image and the Physical Side Effects of Being HIV+

By B. Osten

August 3, 2012

Being gay in the mid-'80s, body image was a priority. Working out at the gym was not just a regimen, it was a lifestyle. Looking good for Gay Pride was the ultimate goal. Back then, it was far less commercial and more of a social event for the LGBT community. A sense of belonging and emancipation from the stigma of AIDS. A safe haven for at least one weekend out of the year.

My partner and myself are a dying breed (pardon the pun). Throwbacks from the '80s. Our fashion changes with the times, but our muscular physiques somewhat remain the same. We both take pride in our appearance and work hard at it. We still enjoy taking our shirts off while dancing at clubs and Gay Pride events.

While dancing with my partner at this year's West Hollywood Gay Pride, someone behind us speaking in a loud enough voice for us to hear, commenting on our (slight, but evident) buffalo humps to his companion. Knowing that they themselves were probably HIV+ from the telltale signs of lipodystrophy, we stood our ground. Now, whether it was intentional or not for us to hear, we didn't allow it to bring us down and continued to have a wonderful time dancing the night away with our shirts left off.

My partner and myself are far from being vain. We are only trying to age gracefully. But, it's a constant struggle to maintain somewhat of a seamless body image. It's becoming more and more difficult not to be publicly picked out of the crowd because of the physical side effects of the virus and HIV meds.

Go figure, just when I'm finally at a place in my life where I'm comfortable in my own skin. How ironic is that?

This article was provided by You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.