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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

New Kid on the Blog

By fogcityjohn

December 9, 2009

Since I'm new here, and this is my first post, I guess I should introduce myself. To that end, let's get some of the basics out of the way right up front. My name's John. I'm 49 years old. I'm a lawyer by profession. I now live in beautiful San Francisco, California, after spending a long time on the east coast. I was diagnosed in 2004, so I've been positive for something like five years.

One thing I should explain at the outset is why I'm writing under a screen name. Mostly it's because I'm not out to my family about my status. See, my parents already lost one of their children, and even though you and I know HIV isn't going to kill me, I don't think that's how they'd see things if they found out. You could say I'm trying to spare their feelings. Or maybe I'm sparing mine, but that's a topic for another day.

Anyway, for now I'm fogcityjohn. And the name's appropriate in more ways than one. My first name really is John, and San Francisco is known as Fog City, so the screen name has a functional, descriptive quality. But there's more to it than that. The person I am and the life and topics I'll be writing about on this blog have come to be defined by what's happened to me since I arrived in this city. When I moved to San Francisco I did it because I wanted to start a new life. No more east coast rat race. No more billable hours. No more weekends spent at the office. It was going to be a new beginning, a fresh start. Like so many others, I dreamed of San Francisco as a place to reinvent myself, a place where I could make a new life.

And for the first few weeks after moving here, I lived that dream. As a new face at the gym, I got a fair bit of attention . . . well, at least for a guy my age. The city's green hills and ostentatiously painted Victorians made for beautiful physical surroundings. And it was so easy to be gay. Even among the relatively conservative lawyers at my new office, no one gave it a second thought. One summer afternoon in those first few weeks, I sat basking in the sunshine in front of an organic grocery on Market Street, and I looked up at the fog slowly snaking in over Twin Peaks, and I thought my dreams were finally coming true.

Then it happened. It was three weeks after my move to town. My annual HIV test came back positive. There followed the usual rounds of counseling and doctor's appointments. The initial news was pretty good. My CD4 count was 578, and my viral load only about 5,000. And as luck would have it, those numbers actually got better, and so far I haven't needed to take meds. (That's a topic I'll return to in subsequent posts.) But as anyone who's positive knows, with the diagnosis, my life has taken a decisive turn. That positive test result would be a line of demarcation in time. My life's history would henceforth be divided into the time "before" and the time "after."

So I did begin a new life. It just wasn't the one I was expecting. A little over five years ago, I entered a new world -- one in which secrecy, or at least a certain discretion, became necessary. It's a place where I feel the need to write under a nom de plume. That's how I became fogcityjohn.

So here I am, doing something I've never done before in my life. Blogging. You see, I'm actually kind of a Luddite, so writing stuff about my life and putting it up on the web for all to see seems so . . . modern and 21st century to me. I guess this will be an exercise in teaching an old dog some new tricks.

As for what you can expect to read about if you choose to visit this space again in the near future, I'll be writing about having lipodystrophy without being on meds, about being a so-called "viremic controller," about participating in research, and about what it's like to be a single, middle-aged, HIV-positive gay man. There'll be other stuff too, but those are some of the things on my mind at the moment.

So that's a bit about me. Thanks for visiting. Hope you'll stop by again. If you have comments or questions, leave them below or write to me at

See Also
Day One With HIV: Finding Out Your Status, in Your Own Words's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed
More "Just Diagnosed" Stories

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Eddy (UK) Sun., Jan. 31, 2010 at 12:23 pm UTC
Abie, thanks for your contribution. Interesting. I had never thought of Christine Maggiore being a long term non-progressor . . . but your suggestion that she must have been one makes sense.
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Comment by: Abie (nyc) Sat., Jan. 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm UTC
Eddy: If you want an example of denialists using long term nonprogressors for their theories all you need to do is read the story of Christine Maggoire, clearly someone who lived with HIV a long time and imagined that the reason she was not progressing was because the researchers didn't know what they were talking about. Obviously she was a slow progressor (although because she stopped seeking care at some point, we'll just need to presume all of this). She had no scientific background (she was a clothing importer) and so she put 1 and 1 together and got 8. She didn't progress, therefore HIV doesn't equal AIDS...therefore HIV medications make you sick (ie causes AIDS). She had some money and founded Alive and Well, an organization that promotes this theory. Many of its followers have died...including her. Her followers are in such denial that they say she died of stress (because of a law and order episode about her)...When Christine's daughter died at 3 (she was hiv positive but had never been tested until she was dead), Christine couldn't acknoweldge that it was her irresponsiblity and that HIV had caused the death. Christine claimed the LA coroner was in on the "conspiracy" claiming that HIV was a dangerous disease...(when in christine's personal experience it didn't seem to be). read more here

These denialists are responsible for the deaths of so many people who stupidly followed their consipiracy theories and wrongheaded nonsense.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Fri., Dec. 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm UTC
@ Eddy in the UK: Sorry, but I am sticking to my policy of not posting links to denialist material. You can use Google to search for their stuff, though. It's not very hard to find.
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Comment by: Eddy (UK) Fri., Dec. 18, 2009 at 6:57 am UTC
FCJ, you wrote: "They point to elite controllers like Loreen Willenberg and claim that since she (and the tiny percentage of poz people like her) haven't progressed to disease stage, this means HIV doesn't cause AIDS." Thanks for this. I'll take your word for it. I suspected it, but I'm not that surprised though that you appear to have found evidence that they do indeed point to people like LW as "evidence" that "HIV doesn't caused AIDS". One thing I have become totally sure of with regards to AIDS-Denialists is that they are "cherry-pickers". They can't, or don't want to, hold all the information in their minds at the one time - mind you that's a pretty difficult thing for any of us to do, but they don't even try! They are highly "selective" in their gathering of "evidence". I've found them to be like kiddies in terms of their abilities to comprehend scientific papers. They are scientifically illiterate. If you happen to still have a link or two to evidence of Denialists seeking to use elite controllers towards their own ends, I'd be grateful if you could point me in the right direction.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Thu., Dec. 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm UTC
@ Tall Kauri in Wellington, NZ: First of all, thanks for checking in from way "down under." You're not risking my ire at all by raising this topic. I think there are a lot of AIDS denialists who try to (mis)use the HIV controller community as "proof" that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. They point to elite controllers like Loreen Willenberg and claim that since she (and the tiny percentage of poz people like her) haven't progressed to disease stage, this means HIV doesn't cause AIDS. This argument is ridiculous. Any doctor will tell you that the relationship between a particular virus and its host is individual. It's often true that many people infected with a given virus will not get sick from it. HIV is actually somewhat unusual on this score, since it sickens and can potentially kill almost 100% of those it infects. And as I've said downthread, research is showing that even elite controllers are suffering adverse effects from the virus. Check out the interview with Dr. Peter Hunt here for more info: My body kept my VL undetectable for years, and although it's now detectable, it's been below 2,000 copies on average. But I've got a lot of health problems that I am pretty sure are caused by HIV. In short, controlling replication doesn't necessarily mean the virus isn't hurting you. As for whether some of these denialists are themselves controllers, I have no way of knowing. Given their views, however, I strongly suspect they'd be unlikely to volunteer for HIV research studies.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Wed., Dec. 16, 2009 at 10:43 pm UTC
@ Sarah in Kampala: Jambo na nafurahi kukuona! (Hope I got my Swahili right. If not, my apologies for any mistakes.) Very happy to hear you like my blog. Unfortunately, I'm not the right person to ask about medical questions. Fortunately, though, this site has a wonderful "Ask the Experts" section where you can post your question. The doctors will respond to you both on line and via e-mail. I've used it myself before, and it's a great resource. I do know that changing medications can sometimes alleviate body shape changes, but I really can't tell you much more than that. I also don't know what drug options are available to you in Uganda. I'm willing to bet, though, that one of the docs on this site will be able to advise. Best of luck to you.
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Comment by: Susan (Montreal, Canada.) Wed., Dec. 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm UTC
Sarah in Kampala, you said "All these are encouraging words, it gives us hope that may some day God's intervention will be here to help." Sorry, Sarah, but I can't see any logic in this. You say that you find encouraging words, presumably in John's article. He's no scientist with a breakthrough, you know. He's only being upbeat and positive about his own HIV status. But why do you think that gives you reason to say that John's upbeat attitude "gives us hope that may some day God's intervention will be here to help"? Why should John's behaviour make you think that somehow some great supernatural being is going to intervene in the AIDS epidemic and help us? Isn't that totally illogical thinking? Anyway, if there were a God of any kind and if he/she had any love for humankind at all, this virus and all viruses would not even exist!
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Comment by: Tall Kauri (Wellington, New Zealand) Wed., Dec. 16, 2009 at 9:57 am UTC
At the risk of raising your ire, fogcityJohn, I think that's a really interesting link made by some people there, between LTNPs and some of the AIDS-Deniers, i.e. the ones who DON'T die or get sick without the drugs (though most do and there must be a good list somewhere!) but may manage to live on and in good health. I wonder if certain AIDS-Deniers have even thought of this - the ones who have become Deniers because they have not been on drugs for a long-time and are still very healthy or because their CDs never went down badly or their viral loads never rocketed up. It's a distinct possibility that some of them are LTNPs and they could actually be helping in the hunt for a cure.
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Comment by: Sarah (Kampala, Uganda) Wed., Dec. 16, 2009 at 2:49 am UTC
All these are encouraging words, it gives us hope that may some day God's intervention will be here to help. It's very difficult to share HIV status with parents, cause it breaks their hearts. I am HIV, I tested in 2004 amd CD4 was 115 and I started on trimuno which was discontinued. fogcityjohn spread the news -- we need it. I have a question though: for some time now I have been using duovir-n but I have lost weight and my physical body features changed. My doctor seem not to want change the drugs what can one do?
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Tue., Dec. 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm UTC
@ Ken in New York: I'm afraid you've misunderstood me. I am not trying to shut any discussion down. I encourage people to discuss what I consider to be the serious problem of AIDS denialism. What I am trying to *discourage* is linking to any denialist material. You may disagree with that, but my personal opinion is that giving publicity to those with denialist views is harmful to the overall fight against HIV. So I have asked that people not link to denialist sites in the comments section to my blog. It's only a request, though, since from a technical standpoint, I can't actually stop anyone from doing it. If you want to discuss denialism, though, be my guest. As for being an HIV controller, I am not telling people not to discuss that issue, either. What I am saying is that I don't think what I call myself really makes much difference. My numbers are what they are, and the researchers who have chosen to include me in their studies apparently believe that I fit their criteria for being an HIV controller. As Loreen has so helpfully pointed out, there is no uniformity in the definition of a controller. If people want to discuss what that definition should be, I say have at it. My only point is that I don't think whether I personaly am or am not a "controller" has any particular significance.
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Comment by: Ken (New York) Tue., Dec. 15, 2009 at 11:11 am UTC
Fogcityjohn, really interesting bunch of comments here and a good conversation beginning to bud but I think it's a pity though that you've tried pretty strongly to close much of it down by indicating to people in your message of Mon., Dec. 14, that you've posted "the last word" in the discussion re. "viremic controllers" and that you don't seem to want any discussion of the problem of people who think AIDS is a myth. These are important issues and it would have been nice if your blog here developed a reputation for discussing issues like this freely.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Mon., Dec. 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm UTC
@ Loreen: Thank you, my dear, for providing some perspective and information on what appears from these comments to be a hotly contested issue -- the definition of an HIV controller. Personally, I'm not hung up on it. If I'm a controller, fine. If I'm not, fine. And as I mentioned earlier, Dr. Peter Hunt has demonstrated that even people who *are* controllers are still being adversely affected by HIV. I can testify to that personally. So if I can try to have the last word on this apparent controversy, I'm not trying to make any claim that I fit every possible definition of "viremic controller" or "HIV controller." I'm saying that for the past several years I have fit the criteria for research that is being conducted in this area. Loreen, as you so correctly point out, there are no standardized, universal definitions of these terms. And finally, if I may quote the Bard, "what's in a name?" I am what I am, no matter what name is attached. @ Eddy in the UK: If I could ask a favor of you, please don't post links to AIDS denialists in the comments section of my blog. I know you had no ill intent, but I just don't think those people should be given any publicity at all. I agree fully with you that they're basically nuts, so I'd rather not be in the position of promoting their positions in any way at all, even if it's just by providing a link to the trash they post on line. Thanks.
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Comment by: Eddy (UK) Sun., Dec. 13, 2009 at 7:09 am UTC
Thanks to everyone who has provided the several official definitions (below) of "controllers". Very interesting. Looking back at my records I see that in my first three years of infection my viral load was all over the place, one month up at 26,000 but down to 9,000 three months later! (And throughout those first four years my CD4 gradually dropped from 300 to 130.) So that means I would not have qualified for any of the controller statuses. I started treatment in 2004 and have had an undetectable viral load ever since, and my CD4 counts have risen to generally hover in the 400s and 500s. Regarding, the AIDS-Denialists, yes, it could be that a few or some of them are "controllers". The tragedy is that from what I have seen of their arguments so far they don't recognise this possibility and therefore they are actively campaigning and encouraging HIV+ people NOT to take meds! Yesterday I found the site of a woman in Greece who appears to have been given some "Woman of the Year" award for her efforts in exposing "the AIDS lie"! See: And for others see: In my debates with just a few AIDS-Denialists I have found that few to be scientifically illiterate, highly selective in considering data, and possessed of an almost blind religious-like passion and belief that HIV and AIDS are lies. They're very unnerving. And their effects upon the gullible and vulnerable are of deep concern. In some countries it is a crime to deny the reality of the Holocaust. Maybe it should also be a crime to deny that HIV causes AIDS.

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Comment by: Loreen Willenberg (Sacramento, CA) Sat., Dec. 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm UTC
Good deal, the posting problem has been resolved, fogcityjohn, so here's the rest of my comment...:

Here are the definitions of the two distinct categories of 'controllers' enrolled in the Ragon Institute's (Boston) International HIV Controller Study (taken directly from their recruitment flier to medical providers:

"1. Elite Controllers are persons who maintain viral loads of less than 50 RNA copies/mL for at least 12 months in the absence of therapy; and
2. Viremic Controllers are persons who maintain viral loads between 50-2000 RNA copies/mL for at least 12 months in the absence of therapy."

In the recent past, clinical researchers in Boston and at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland)have begun to focus on yet a third category of 'controller' - individuals who experience an occasional viral load 'blip' above 2,000 copies/mL (and as high as 25,000 or more), but who return to an 'undetectable' (or lower) viral load measurement in a relatively short amount of time - evidence of some suppressive propensity. These people are called 'slow-progressors' (NIH), or 'viremic non-progressors' (Boston), and perhaps the category that you are in, fogcity.

To those of us who closely watch the research on HIV Controllers, there does appear to be some movement toward establishing a more universal definition of eligibility to these categories. It's important, however, to remember that the study of HIV (and we HIV Controllers)is a highly complex endeavor with multi-faceted hypotheses. It is likely that 'gray' areas and 'over-lapping' definitions may persist for a while, but for now, nothing is really set in stone. In the meantime, fogcity, keep penning your thoughts and sharing your story for us. You are certainly one heck of a courageous man!
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Sat., Dec. 12, 2009 at 7:28 pm UTC
Looks like Germany is weighing in today. Viele Gre aus San Francisco! @ Tamara in Germany: As you'll see from my earlier comment, and from Loreen Willenberg's comment, the definition of who is an HIV controller varies. But if you look at, you'll find Dr. Bruce Walker's definition: "We define HIV controllers as people who are not currently on antiretroviral therapy, have been infected with HIV for at least 1 year, and consistently have viral load measurements below 2000 copies/ml." Dr. Walker is one of the leading researchers in this area. Dr. Jay Levy at UCSF also considers me a controller. German doctors may take a different view, but this is the judgment of two highly respected American experts in this field. @ Annette in Germany: The photo is real, but it's so small that I'm pretty much unrecognizable. @ Loreen: Good to see you, my friend. Looks like your posting problems are resolved, so post away!
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Comment by: Loreen Willenberg (Sacramento, CA) Fri., Dec. 11, 2009 at 1:59 pm UTC
Congratulations on the publication of your first blog post on The Body, fogcityjohn! And, what a wonderful first post it is. I've had the good fortune to know you for several years and marvel at your natural gift with the written word. The comments already posted are testimony to your ability to touch others through this gift, and I am so very pleased for you!
I want to lend my support to the unique position you find yourself in as a 'controller' of HIV infection, and perhaps clarify some of the confusion that surrounds the various categories of 'controllers' (or, long-term nonprogressors/LTNPs). There are, unfortunately, many terms used to describe the same person, depending upon the clinical research site conducting the studies on our collective community.
(I've been having some difficulty posting comments to this site, and will continue once I've verified the problem is solved.)
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 7:20 pm UTC
@ Eddy in the UK: Let no one be confused. HIV controllers, be they elite or viremic, are infected with HIV, and the virus causes damage to their bodily systems even if they are undetectable. At the recent HIV controller symposium here in San Francisco, Dr. Peter Hunt presented evidence that even elite controllers were being adversely affected by HIV. My body keeps viral replication at low levels, but this does NOT mean I'm not being harmed by HIV. As you'll see in upcoming posts, I've got health problems that are almost certainly HIV-related. In short, the denialists are completely WRONG. The fact that a very small percentage of the HIV-infected population (under 1%) can live a long time without progressing to AIDS, does not mean HIV is a hoax. The scientific evidence is conclusive -- HIV causes AIDS. People who deny that are either ignorant or living in a fantasy world.
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Comment by: Tamara (Frankfurt, Germany) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm UTC
Sorry, but who named you "viremic controller"? I went 8 year's without medication after I got my diagnose. It took so long for my body to "react" towards the virus. So be careful putting yourself on a status/stage which might not be strong enough to carry you.
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Comment by: Annette (Germany) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm UTC
You wrote: "I'm writing under a screen name. Mostly it's because I'm not out to my family about my status". Okay...why having a picture of your's in this blog than??? Or is it also a false one?
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm UTC
Hey Jimmy Mack, looks like you're comin' back. (Sorry, couldn't resist the easy joke.) "You're as sick as your secrets." I like that one. Will check out your blog. @ david palazzo: Thanks for your kind comments. I really appreciate your taking the time to visit. More posts are on the way.
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Comment by: hogcitysteve (Toronto) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 10:20 am UTC
Hey again fogcity, you asked when i tested POZ? I believe it was 1991 but not sure, it could have been 92. Long before we had access to viral load testing here in Canada anyway. Either way, it's a long time ago and by my fuzzy reckoning probably about 25 years from infection to starting treatment. When my CD4s started dropping they nosedived over about a year and viral load started to be detectable before i could bring myself to accept it wasn't just a blip.
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Comment by: Eddy (United Kingdom) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 8:01 am UTC
Hi, having just done battle with a bunch of AIDS-Denialists for the last month I rather interested in your term "Viremic Controller" and look forward to learning more. As one poster says above, I have always understood that there are some people who are described as "non-progressors", i.e. they are HIV+ but they do not lose a healthy CD4 count and their viral load does not spiral. I am wondering now if some of the AIDS-Denialists may be "long-term non-progressors" or, to use your term, "viremic controllers". I have been dealing with a bunch of them who have all ditched their meds in the last year or so and who claim that they are now absolutely fine. They also claim that HIV does not cause AIDS and that HIV medications do not control HIV. I have found that their evidence is embarrassingly and glaringly non-existent. They read scientific papers as children would: unable to comprehend the entirety and grasping at the odd phrase in their efforts to back up their conspiracy theories, that AIDS is not caused by HIV and that the medications are just a great big pharmaceutical conspiracy to make money.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Thu., Dec. 10, 2009 at 12:05 am UTC
Gee, lots of folks from Vancouver. Hey TerryH! Good to meet another viremic controller. Thanks for the tip about Zephyr, but as you'll see in an upcoming post, I'm already a member there.

@ Rob in Vancouver: I understand that there's some disagreement about who is a controller and who isn't. I'm not trying to mislead anyone. Check back for an upcoming post on that issue. Some of the links in that post will take you to definitions of the term. All I can say is, researchers have accepted me into HIV controller studies. Take from that what you will.

@ Irving in Merida: Thanks for reading. You're new to HIV. Hope you've got support and counseling where you are.

@ alive and well: Glad to hear you're coping so well. My best to your little girl. I bet she's precious.

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Comment by: JIMMY MACK (SOUTHANPTON, NY) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 11:42 pm UTC
John, enjoyed your blog and welcome to the Body! Isn't Bonnie great, I too have blogged on this forum. Back in the late 80's, I too was too ashamed of being HIV+ to tell my loving parents, especailly since my father is a doctor and back then, it was a death sentence! I also had lost a younger brother who died at 19 after being hit by a drunk driver and I couldn't imagine putting my parents through that again. At the time, I was getting my 1st set of dental implants and my Oral Surgeon was also my father's best friend. Because of the surgery, I decided to tell him and his first question was: "Do your parents know?" I told him my reasons and he said he was sure my parents would rather hear it from me than get a call from a NYC hospital. I told them then and began telling everyone after getting sober in 1992. I learned in rehab that your as sick as your secrets and I plan to live the rest of my life without secrets! As a long term survivor, 22 years since testing positive and counting, I am proud to be the face of this disease and to have survived and thrived with it all these years! For World AIDS Week, I spoke at several Long Island High Schools for LOVE HEALS: the Alison Getz Foundation for AIDS Education (as I have done for the past 10 years) and I love telling the students that I may not be the typical face of AIDS but I am the typical face of a Gay man: Good looking and well built! Check out my blog some time, look forward to more of yours!
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Comment by: david palazzo (Boston) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm UTC
Thanks for making the effort to share your experiences, your altered life and challenges - emotional and physical, dealing with HIV disease. Too few of us take the time (and the risk) to talk about our status and tell of our story. As a result, we live in a society that, thirty odd years later, still does not know much about the disease and has little incentive to educate and sensitize themselves.
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Comment by: alive and well (HOUSTON) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 10:23 pm UTC
Its difficult to be positive but what else can you do than to live positively with being positive, somehow unconsiously we become so careful with everything we do, we actually live better lives than the negative group , because we know thats what we owe ourselves, to keep fighting the battle until we win, and surely we will, lets keep keeping on and keep spreading the word to strenghten all those positive guys and gals who think life stops with HIV, actually life really does start with HIV, atleast mine started, what about yours? I have been positive sine 2002 and my daughter was born with it and she is alive and well, doing wonderfully well.
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Comment by: TerryH (Vancouver) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm UTC
Welcome to the Body John!
Somewhat like you, I am an elite controller of HIV. I have been positive for just over 7 years and have a CD4 count of 950, never been over a viral load of 200 (mostly undetectable on my regular labs). In case you haven't yet heard, there is a wonderful community forum for viremic and elite controllers that I found out about from a article recently. It's the Zephyr Foundation and a really friendly, great group of people that understand the unique issues we deal with. I look forward to reading about yours in upcoming posts!
All my best,
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Comment by: Irving (Merida, Mexico) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 7:48 pm UTC
Hi there. I was diagnosed in April, this year, and like you, my family does not know because as you say, there's no need yet to trouble them with that and some other stuff maybe once we can talk about (limited space here, see?) Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and part of story, I've been thinking on doing some stuff like that, but delaying it for one or other reasons. Anyway, I'm 32 years old, on meds, and still figuring some things out, yet feeling a lot like you do (the family feelings, that secrecy stuff, too). Take care, I'll keep reading for sure. Hugs.
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Comment by: fogcityjohn (San Francisco) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm UTC
Wow. Just posted and already folks are commenting.

@ Stephen in SF: I know well the whole feeling of depression. I struggle with it myself and will be posting about that. I won't lie to you. Being poz is hard, and it's especially difficult in the early period after diagnosis. But I have come through it, and I think you will too. Stick with that counseling. It's a lifesaver.

@ hogcitysteve: Whoa! When did you test positive? Just wondering if you're an HIV controller/LTNP.

@ Richard in Boston: Oh boy, I will be talking about being single, but I hope you're not expecting any good dating advice from me. ;-)
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Comment by: Rob (Vancouver) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm UTC
I think it's great that you're writing this blog. But, also, I wouldn't want to mislead people, either. I would not consider yourself a "viremic controller". You are only 5 yrs poz, the average person takes approx. 7 yrs to go on meds. So, before I would consider you a viremic controller, speak to me if you have these same numbers when you are 10 to 12 years poz. To me, you ain't even close to being a viremic controller. You are right where you should be. I had a higher CD count and lower viral load numbers than those in my 5th year. I began taking meds in guess what, year 7. Take care my friend and have a good life!
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Comment by: Richard (Boston MA) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm UTC
Welcome John, we're the same age and while I am on meds I look forward to your updates. We're the same age and single as well, be interesting to see what situations you run into in that respect.

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Comment by: hogcitysteve (Toronto) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm UTC
Hey there fogcityjohn: I'm an old guy on the block and it's good to hear from a new kid on the block. I applaud your courage in examining and sharing your journey with us. I look forward to reading your story.
I came out to the gay world in 1983 after many years of marriage & making babies. I soon discovered that my new found friends (and lovers) were dropping dead all around me.
There seemed little point in testing at the time as there were no treatments and very little hope back then.
I finally got tested to confirm the POZ status which i had assumed all along. With that confirmation in hand i made radical life changes expecting there couldn't be much time left for me.
Well, who could have figured i'd still be alive and healthy and med's free until March 2008 when I finally took the plunge and started treatment.
Here's hoping you have many many happy years ahead of you and that the challenges and the stigmas associated with living with HIV diminish as we live on. Big Hugs,,, Steve
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Comment by: Stephen (San Francisco) Wed., Dec. 9, 2009 at 5:43 pm UTC
As a 51 year old gay man, an attorney and resident of SF myself, I look forward to reading your blog. I was diagnosed 15 months ago. My initial numbers were bad(CD4=280 and VL=318,000) and I started meds within 2 months. HIV has basicaly shut down my life, and depression and hopeless prevail. I hope that will change, but despite counseling, the struggles of being positive bring me down almost every day.
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Outlier: My Unusual Journey With HIV



My name's John. I'm 49 years old. I'm a lawyer by profession. I now live in beautiful San Francisco, California, after spending a long time on the east coast. I was diagnosed in 2004, so I've been positive for something like five years.

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