What Will You Do?
By Philip D.
March 17, 2010
Several weeks ago, I attended a Town Hall meeting at the LGBT Center here in San Francisco, where some very learned men did their best to describe to a room full of lay people how leading medical minds propose to eradicate HIV from the body.
Now I must admit, for obvious reasons, it was a concept that I found especially intriguing. Each speaker took a turn at the microphone using words like "provirus" and "reservoir cells" as they did their best to enlighten the information-hungry audience about a rather complicated idea. As much as I enjoy being fed some great medical lingo as much the next guy, it was an exercise one of the young docs called a "Kumbaya Moment" that really made me think (and feel).
Early in the evening, Dr. Rick asked that those in attendance close their eyes and imagine where they'll be when they first hear the news that HIV can be eradicated. "Maybe you'll be in your doctor's office, or even reading it over a morning cup of coffee. It's possible," he continued, "that you'll be with some of your poz friends or even the love of your life. Perhaps you'll get the call from a family member or even hear it in passing as you walk down the street." (That's how I found out about Farrah and Michael). "Visualize that day," he beckoned.
Now I've done enough yoga classes to say the concept of creative visualization isn't exactly new to me. Instructors will often end a session with each student asked to envision peace to all the earth's people. I've done it, mostly because I believe it works but this time for me, it was different.
I leaned against a sturdy column, and as I felt my eyelids close out the bad fluorescent light, I listened to the rhythmic beat of the voice leading the exercise. I gave my imagination complete permission to lead me as far as it possibly could in three minutes, as I pondered that fateful day. Where I ended up surprised even me. (My vivid imagination has got me in trouble before)
You might find it hard to believe but after visualizing dancing in the streets and perhaps having sex with anything that moved (just kidding, Honey), I found myself standing alone on a high peak, the sun on my face, saying adios to the virus that has unequivocally changed my life. Don't get me wrong, I'd be fucking thrilled to get this out of my veins once and for all but I can't honestly say that said virus hasn't caused me to live each day more fully, pushed me to trust and love after many years of shying away from potential mates, to literally clean up my act in more ways than one and through helping others, found a purpose that I was desperately lacking.
Oh, but enough about me ... you try it.
What will you do?
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Comment by: Dennis
Sun., Apr. 4, 2010 at 10:18 am EDT
I would hold my lover in my arms and cry...then live every day of my life as if I have been given a special gift
Comment by: Dawn D.
Sat., Apr. 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm EDT
I have had the honor of being Philip's dentist for at least 15 years and of the many patients that I care for, Philip is one of the most informed. His mind is curious, active and full of very useful information on many topics that he obviously loves to share. Philip works very diligently to have correct information and his stellar integrity helps him hunt down the truth. I am proud and thrilled to have him as my friend & patient.
Comment by: Peter
Sat., Apr. 3, 2010 at 12:30 am EDT
If a cure came around, I would stay clear from the GAY SCENE !!!! Which at the end of the day has given me nothing but heart-ache. Bitchy, Shallow,Vain,Bitter & Twisted Queens....will be a thing of the past. I think that was my downfall....getting involved in the GAY SCENE at the young age of 18. Im now 33.
Oh ....um...er...yeah...I would also f**k like crazy without thinking about HIV every time I climax. hehehe.
Comment by: Philip D.
(San Francisco, CA)
Tue., Mar. 23, 2010 at 8:46 pm EDT
Although I really do understand the view of the sceptics re: drug companies and their hunger for profits, the personal comments left here and the emails I've received this week, make me hopeful. The power of positive thinking in mass, can move mountains. However, I wonder how many of us have never allowed ourselves to dream of such a day either because we feel we don't deserve it or simply don't want to get our hopes up. Please close your eyes, where ever you are and give yourself three minutes and the permission to visualize as creatively and as vividly as you can. You really do deserve this.....we all do.
Comment by: Speed It Up
Tue., Mar. 23, 2010 at 10:13 am EDT
Lets make this day closer! Join World Community Grid and donate free time of your PC to speed up scientific research! www worldcommunitygrid org
Comment by: Tonnie Loree Thompson
(La Grande OR)
Mon., Mar. 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm EDT
I just saw my partner telling me that he was glad, an that no we would never have to live in fear or doubt again.
Comment by: aj
Sun., Mar. 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm EDT
For me not much would change other than Id be free of the virus. After 20 years the virus and I have found a way to cohabitate well in the same body. I know this will sound very new agy... but many years ago I told the virus if you kill me you die too! It made me aware at a yng age of my own mortality, something that youth misses till its too late.
Comment by: Raymond Hilerio
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm EDT
I am 62 yrs. Old. I have lived with this virus for 21yrs. If there was cure for it, I think I will miss it.(kidding). I don't think it will happen in my life time.
Comment by: Kirk
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm EDT
I would cry and thank my God for the miracle.
Comment by: Earl Kelly
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm EDT
Wishful thinking. HIV and the common cold are both retro viruses. You find the cure for one, the cure for the other is right behind. Both
diseases are an incredible money source for the pharmecuetical companies, so don't expect a cure
from the likes of Gilead or Pfizer, or ANY big drug manufacturer. A cure, if one is found, will come from a governmental source, after HIV has ravished its population, made lifetime
treatment to expensive, and infection rates have reached frigtening numbers. But finding a cure soon? Not gonna happen. Its now being called a "manageable" disease by the drug companies, like diabetes. And the sale of the anti-viral drugs by the drug companies is, to them, the goose that lays golden eggs, for the rest of your life.
Comment by: Everett
(San Francisco, CA)
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm EDT
Amazing blog!!! I'm sooooo proud of you!!
Comment by: May
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 11:05 am EDT
I would have the courage to tell everybody (even if my family and my closest freinds already known) that I was one of those having it and facing it and hoping for the day of being free! I would also start giving more information and discuss with people living in some rural area (south Italy...I m from there) I will tell them that I and my family where fighting together for me!...I will Thank God who is listening to my prayers and all the people studying to try to save us!
Comment by: Lyric
(Saint Paul, MN)
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 9:49 am EDT
I would cry, first and for most. Because my burden has been lifted off my shoulders; no more rain in these clouds. I would then thank God and Jesus for answering my prayers. This topic had me thinking; what if I lived as if their was a cure. How different would my life be? It would be much different, Ill be much happier, so that's how I have to live my life, as if their was a cure.
Comment by: Terry
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 8:25 am EDT
When I read your article, it really made me think....The first thing I thought was....will that really happen in my lifetime? I suppose that it's best not to know....lifestyle changes and habits may start to slack for many, with that in the back of our minds. Then, I thought about your question....? It would unfortunately be full of sadness first...thinking about my lover of 18 years who didn't last to see that day.....and all of the people I have know throughout my life who also didn't make it to the top of that hill! It will be very difficult for me to be happy...even though deep down inside me....that joy will want to surface, but I think that I will be in mourning for a bit....
Comment by: Douglas
(Manchester, United Kingdom)
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 6:22 am EDT
The moment I heard the news I guess I would RUSH to my clinic to get in queue! And then I guess I would just live in an agonising hope that I would survive until the supplies of the cure actually arrived and they could shove the stuff into me! And from the moment I heard the news, yes, I would start making plans. For me it would mean I could return to my very high-profile career that I had to abandon when this virus caught me. There would no longer be the awful stress and worry about the armies of gossips getting hold of "the news" and running to the gutter-press with it to tell the world that I was diseased. And to return to that career and to doing what I find so fulfilling: that would be just unbelievably wonderful. This creature could fly again!
Comment by: GD
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 4:05 am EDT
Fall on my knees and thank God Jesus Christ our Lord and savior for giving me a 2nd chance at life. Then will trust no man..ever again..he has to come with certified papers.
Comment by: Tukwasibwe Valentine
Fri., Mar. 19, 2010 at 3:05 am EDT
That day if any I will dedicate the remaining years of my life to serve God. This will be the greatest miracle He will have done to mankind in as many centuries.
Comment by: Eddie
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm EDT
I will ask the president of the United States to invite all of the scientists that made it possible or even contributed at some point from the start to the end of the epidemic and throw a big party. Then I would do an Ironman with a headband that says "No more pain" Then I will contact NASA and ask them to name one of their probes "HOPE". Then I will travel to all of the continents and set a flag on each one of them in memory of those who have died. That's what I'do, after all, I'd have more energy by then.
Comment by: Jerry
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm EDT
Do you really think that someone who has been dammaged by this horrible disease that they would ever be normal again.
Comment by: Phoenix
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm EDT
I'll be dancing on the streets with you! I never realised how much HIV had changed my life until I found that I had no life. I was ashamed to go out with friends, I felt like a failure- no good thing in my life seemed worth it. That was my story for the most part of my 20's. Now approaching 30,I have decied that my story has to change. I'm waiting on that cure but in the meantime I am going to live my life abundantly! And on that day when they announce that cure, I am going to cry! Tears of joy for myself and the millions of people just like me, tears of rememberance for the ones that didn't make it to see that day and tears of relief...because I hung in there. I didn't let myself go with depression, denial or self stigma. I made it.
Comment by: Luis
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm EDT
The first thing that I would do is scream, laugh, cry... then I wanna call all my friends and tell them that I'm free. Stop being afraid about everything. Hug my mom, pray and say thanx GOD. and I'll be happy about every single person who is suffering about HIV.
Please somebody find the cure soon!
Comment by: mark
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm EDT
make love to my dedicated hiv neg man without that little niggling inside that i just might one day infect him
Comment by: Chuck Coffelt
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm EDT
First, I'd properly dispose of all those pills ...and their side effects. I'd shred all that medical paperwork, proof of whatever forms, faxes...etc..
...And all these "assistance" programs that assist me out of my freedom to live where I want...would have to be re-thinked.
I wouldn't have to live near easy access to a hospital or clinic in case I had some sort of reaction.
I doubt if I'd jump on every guy that moved because you never know what else is out there. And I sure would be careful about my partner choices still. But I wouldn't worry as much about catching something...after getting to know that person some first.
I'd hope the memory of HIV and AIDS would be carried long in the Gay History Books to warn future generations of just jumping from guy to guy.
Then I'd "dance in the streets" ....and if the right guy came along...well.....maybe ....
See ya there! ; )
Comment by: rick
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm EDT
thank you derek...for even if im not around physicaly for the day a cure comes i also in spirt with tears of joy in my eye knowing that this virus has finally lost!!!!!
Comment by: pattielin
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm EDT
I will be able to find love love once again,and stay drug free.
Comment by: Derek
(Los Angeles, CA)
Thu., Mar. 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm EDT
The frist thing I would do is find a woman to have a baby for me as I have always wanted a child. I love children so much that I am terrified to even look into adoption for fear that no agency in America the Beautiful would deny me the opportunity because of my HIV status. I am too cautious now around other people and children even though I know casual contact cannot spread the virus it is always in the front of my mind. So whether I am around or not to see the day a cure is discovered I will be somewhere with tears in my eyes of happiness for those who will be.
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A Positive Spin
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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