How have your relationships with family and friends changed since you were diagnosed?
There has never been a change from day one. Sometimes I think that they have forgotten that I am HIV positive. It has never been an issue.
How do you decide whether to disclose your HIV status to someone?
I tell people my status based on their need to know. That's what I advocate when educating anyone with HIV about status disclosure. Your doctor needs to know, your dentist need to know, but cousin Edna, who cannot hold water and loves to gossip, does not have a vested interest in knowing. I strongly believe in disclosing to sex partners. I think it is moral, legal and just the right thing to do.
When you disclose to people, how do you start the conversation? What do you say?
I came out publicly at a seminar for 2006 World AIDS Day as the new face of HIV, and then in the December/January 2007 issue of HIV Positive! magazine. (I was on the cover.) [Read Terry's "Positive Profile" at www.hivpositivemagazine.com/terry.html]
When I tell someone for the first time that I'm positive, I just say that I am living with HIV. I consider HIV to be a chronic disease, just like hypertension. I have had this virus for 13-plus years and have never been sick because of it. It is all in a person's attitude, being positive or negative. In my experience, people who get out and live life to the fullest do well; people who maintain the deep, dark secret and go into hiding have problems.
How has your sex life changed since you became positive?
I am less sexually active and more responsible. I have very few sexual encounters. Two years ago, I decided I was not just going to settle for any ol' guy, so I decided to abstain from casual sex. If I did decide to have sex today, it would be protected sex. I am holding out until I start dating or until I get in a relationship.
What is the best response you have ever gotten from telling someone? And what is the worst response?
When I was initially diagnosed, I told my best friend that I had tested HIV positive. He just said, "You will be all right. I have been living with HIV for three years without any problems." I was shocked, because we had been best friends for 16 years -- since high school -- and I thought we didn't have any secrets.
I have never had a negative response yet!
Did you make any New Year's resolutions this year?
Yes, to lose weight and start back working out. I have gotten off track, stopped dieting and exercising, and as a result I have put on 65 pounds.
What's the greatest adventure you've ever had?
Serving in the U.S. Army in 1990 during Operation Desert Storm was the greatest adventure I ever had. Not knowing if I was going to live or die because of the Scud missiles and the uncertain intelligence on Saddam Hussein and whether he had chemical or biological weapons. It was a scary and frightening experience. Being in the war was an adventure because the experience took me to a place I never thought I would go -- near death, fearing death. What I learned from the experience is to trust God and have faith, a man without a vision is dead, and I had lost all hope before this period of time.
If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
To be able to travel around the world to all the continents and experience each culture's food, sites and city life. I really want to go to Kenya, Africa, because of the beauty of the jungle, the animals and the people.
|TERRY'S POST-DIAGNOSIS MEDICAL HISTORY AND UPDATES|
|CD4+ Count (May 2008): 850 Viral Load (May 2008): <1000|
|Medications, Side Effects and Illnesses (chronologically)|
|1994: Year of diagnosis|
|1997: Started HIV meds even though his CD4 count was 1,200 (at that time it was recommended that all HIV-positive people be on medication) -- Videx (didanosine, ddI) + Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT); experienced nausea and diarrhea|
|Switched to Crixivan (indinavir) + Epivir (lamivudine, 3TC) + AZT; struggled with expanding waistline, pill burden and having to drink too much water|
Switched to Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) + Zerit (d4T, stavudine) + Ziagen (abacavir); this was his best regimen
|2000-2002: Took structured treatment holiday|
|2001-2002: Went through hepatitis C treatment for 48 weeks ? Pegintron (peginterferon) and Rebetol (ribavirin) tablets; his hepatitis C has been undetectable since 2002|
|May 2008: Terry is not currently taking HIV medications
Updated May 2008
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