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My T Cells Could Use a Facelift

December 2, 2010

As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, takes stock of 2010 in a new series of articles, "HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)." Read the entire series here.

My favorite, past video posting (and maybe the funniest) on "My Fabulous Disease " has been nipped, tucked, and given a new youthful glow! See below for the "Director's Cut" of the video "When My T Cells Are Old and Gray." Last December's entry on aging gracefully holds new meaning as my 50th birthday nears -- and new research on HIV & aging are being released.

Mark S. King

Mark S. King

Can I still complain about getting older if I was supposed to be dead 20 years ago? That's the dilemma of aging HIV positive guys like me. Feeling victorious over AIDS only takes your self esteem so far; there's no HIV medication to fight wrinkles.

Oh wait, there is. I had facial injections last year (and showed you the process ) to alleviate moderate facial wasting, and it fixed me right up. Then I got padded butt shorts for those occasions I wear my beloved 501's and I want to feel more confident. And let's not forget the testosterone my doctor prescribed years ago that has kept a youthful bounce in my step ever since. If this is all strictly for HIV treatment, Joan Rivers is a long-term AIDS survivor.

Last December I created a video posting about the battle between my gratitude for aging and my vanity, and I'll admit it might be the funniest five minutes on my site. As my 50th birthday draws nearer, it's a good time to give it another look. I discuss bars, boys, butt pads and Donny Osmond -- something for everyone! Consider it the re-edited, younger-looking Director's Cut of a golden oldie.

Meantime, "Aging and HIV" appears to be the hot topic of the day. Conferences and workshops on the topic abound, and as the patient population considers their unexpected Golden Years, concerns about the long-term effects of HIV infection and the impact of decades of medications are increasing. And then there are the emotional implications.


"Aging is a challenge for all of us. But, for gay men living with HIV it is even more complex," says Dr. James Masten , author of the upcoming book Aging with HIV: A Gay Man's Guide .); "This war has utilized all their emotional resources and few have had the time to consider the challenge of aging."

Well, not so fast. I make time to obsess about aging. But please continue, doctor.

"Research has found higher rates of depression, lack of social support, and reduced quality of life among middle-aged and older people living with HIV. Adapting to aging with HIV can become complicated when emotional issues such as HIV-stigma, internalized ageism, unresolved grief, or survivor guilt impact one's ability to care for oneself fully in the present."

So I suppose I should live in the present and stop posting videos I made over a year ago. Seriously, these issues have the ring of the same emotional minefields I've been navigating for the last 20 years. But I'll check out his book for any tips he might have on advanced age. And avoiding jowls.

Meanwhile, research on HIV and aging is being released left and right. The sum of this research seems to suggest that we'll be more frail in our older age, have a tendency for more bone loss than the average person, and about twice as likely to have cognitive issues .

You can check the links yourself, but the news is a lot better than I would have guessed. I had expected people with HIV/AIDS to be waiting en masse for liver transplants by now. Remember, too, that people with HIV/AIDS are more likely to smoke, to have a drug abuse history, multiple sexual partners and other STDs ... Basically, as a group we're Heavy Metal Bad. The fact research suggests we're more likely to be frail or forget our own phone number makes perfect sense to me.

So, take your vitamins, stay active and get a bone density check . Then kick back and listen to some vintage Donny Osmond or watch the old man win the mirrored ball on Dancing With the Stars!

As always, my friends, please be well.


Read more of My Fabulous Disease, Mark's video blog, on

Visit Mark's live blog at

Mark S. King has been an active AIDS activist, writer and community organization leader since the early 1980s in Los Angeles. He has been an outspoken advocate for prevention education and for issues important to those living with HIV.

Diagnosed in 1985, Mark has held positions with the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, AID Atlanta and AIDS Survival Project, and is an award-winning writer. He continues his volunteer work as an AIDS educator and speaker for conferences and events.


This article was provided by TheBody.
See Also
HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)
More Personal Accounts of Older People With HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Mark (Tallahassee, Fl) Wed., Dec. 15, 2010 at 8:17 am UTC
My t-cells have never been higher in 15 years of testing, 487, and I've never felt worse. Fabulous!
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Comment by: PozMpls (Minneapolis) Mon., Dec. 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm UTC
Good luck to you Mark.
I wish I was 50 again. You're pushing 50 and I'm pushing 60.I tested "poz" in the mid 80's.....I remember my doctor telling me I wouldn't see 40. At my 50th B-day party I toasted his knowledge(he was discredited in the late 90s for actually not having the education he claimed)
I acatually think I'm healthier because I am poz. I try to take care of myself emotionaly and physically. Going to the gym regularly becomes quite a chore on a cold morning, but I feel better and apparently look pretty good to some of the other "regulars".
Facial fillers do help to "cure" the wrinkles(I had 250cc done in 2004) remember smokers "age" faster with their skin so stop if you do and avoid if you don't. Always moisturize.....
We don't know how much time we're make the most of it. My 50s have been better than my 40's. You have something to look forward to !!!
I won't claim to not worry about the 60s but I'll do what I can and hopefully won't be to much of a cranky crumugeon.

Best of luck in the new year ...both the calander and your "new year"

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Comment by: Brooklyn (Seattle, WA) Fri., Dec. 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm UTC
I must agree with the other comments. You are funny, and whitty. It's nice to see other people have a comedic side to deal with our unknown reality. I'll have to read more of your posts..
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Comment by: E. Deane Lind (Morrill, NE) Thu., Dec. 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm UTC
Dear Mark ... as always, you are spot on!! Every time I read your blog or one of your commentaries, I find myself shouting "YEAH ... that's exactly how I feel ... I'm NOT alone!!!" Thank you for giving a voice to those of us who travel a similar path and find ourselves feeling isolated and alone. The beautiful work that you do makes such a difference in people's lives ... please don't ever stop. You are a ray of sunshine in our lives!!
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Comment by: L Marks (Huntsville, AL) Thu., Dec. 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm UTC
Fun, silly and still informative. Thanks!
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