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When I'm 74

By Philip D.

July 30, 2013

"Hey Babe, listen to this headline," as I sipped my morning dose of java and viewed the week's top stories on TheBody.com. "There are some more people that have been cured of HIV."

"Why are you so obsessed with this?" John, my other half, replied.

"Oh I don't know," I responded with a slightly bitchy tone. "Maybe because I'd like this shit out of my body forever. Don't you?"

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"I can't say I wouldn't like to stop taking meds every day, but after more than 20 years, I stopped thinking about a cure. HIV is a small part of my life. I don't think about what it would be like without it. I've accepted it."

I stopped with an uncharacteristic loss for words. "Is he fucking kidding?" I thought to myself. I would give my right testicle and maybe even a kidney to put this phase of my life behind me, tomorrow. He wasn't kidding; I know better. John and I may share the same HIV status, but we look at it very differently. It's one of the many things that I love about him and probably why we complement each other.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post in which I asked the question, "What will you do (when you first hear that HIV has been eradicated)?" At the time, it was the first I had ever heard of such a thing. Eradicate HIV? Hell yeah, I was all ears and ready for the end ASAP. But I don't have to tell you, if you've been following this story, that doing that, is far from a slam dunk. With that said, we have made progress in several ways to move in that direction. Even I, the recovering pessimist, think that eliminating HIV from more than several human bodies, is on the horizon.

As part of a writing assignment last semester, I was asked to journal about my life, 25 years from now. I was asked to envision who I was, and where I would be, at the age of 74. It wasn't the first time I had done something like this, but it was different this time around. I'll spare you the physical details and the locale, but HIV was most definitely part of my past. In hindsight, it was just another phase of life that, like the others, had a beginning and an end. Some phases are longer and some are short but when you're in the middle of one, it's hard to believe that it will probably end. This most recent vision quest was filled with a new perspective and gratitude. Being rid of the virus but still having the knowledge that I have amassed: What I am capable of, if life gets ugly, and people even uglier. Priceless? I think so.

Even if it has been decades, what would it hurt to visualize yourself, on the other side of HIV? What have you learned about life, love and yourself since testing positive? Has living with a potentially fatal disease taught you any priceless information that you might never have never known otherwise?

I'd be willing to bet it has.


Related Stories

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More Inspiring Stories of Gay Men With HIV
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Carolyn (Midland, Ontario) Sun., Aug. 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm EDT
Every so often I actually forget I have a life threatening disease; and imagine a normal life with normal interactions and a normal aging processes. Hah! The magic of science; love that 80's song!! I think I love Phillip too! Hugs from afar!! Cheers to science all the brains working in our cause. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Comment by: Larry Frampton (Knoxville, TN) Fri., Aug. 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm EDT
AS a 24 year survivor of HIV/AIDS I welcome the day for the cure and would be the happiest Cowboy on the planet to say I no longer have HIV/AIDS. The longer you live with this virus the better chance you have of developing serious side effects so yea I would welcome the cure and would welcome the chance to grow old without HIV/AIDS.
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Comment by: John-Manuel Andriote (Norwich, CT) Thu., Aug. 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm EDT
Oh, I most definitely would L.O.V.E. to be rid of this unwelcome guest in the Temple Hotel that is my body, host to all sorts of microorganisms including this vicious one. That said, I decided very soon after my diagnosis in 2005 that I would not let HIV define me. I've also written about the reasons I reject the stigmatizing and medically outdated label "AIDS", and why it's harmful to public understanding to use the term for late-stage untreated HIV infection for anyone whose T-cell count has ever dropped below 200 (the most common reason in the US for an "AIDS" diagnosis). Language can rob us of hope if it implies that "no matter how well you adhere to your meds, you'll always have AIDS." Yikes! As I like to say, I don't see myself as John: A person with HIV, but as John. Period. I am not a medical diagnosis.
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A Positive Spin


Philip D.

Philip D.

After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. From the very beginning, each time I was presented with an obstacle or challenge, I also received some help. Usually in the form of a person, sometimes an opportunity; but I have grown so much, it has made it impossible for me to call the past few years "bad." Although I've never written much of anything before, 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.


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