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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

My Fabulous Disease

A Special Anniversary Episode


A Video Blog

By Mark S. King

March 2, 2011

"When Mark first started My Fabulous Disease, I was pretty sure it was going to directly result in the destruction of humanity. One year later, we're all still here. I can't believe I lost that bet."
Myles Helfand, Editorial Director
TheBody.com

My father always said, "Raise your hand. Ask the stupid questions. Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself." If he isn't rolling in his grave today, he's certainly shifting a little, because if there's one thing I've tried to do with my blog it has been to ask basic questions of others -- and reveal everything I can of myself. The result has been a really gratifying experience sharing my life as an HIV-positive gay man in recovery from addiction.


My Fabulous Disease: A Special Anniversary Episode
"Your blog provides a limpid stream of good advice and optimism for anyone who stumbles into it. Your take on living with HIV is clearly the only one worth having, because you manage to inspire and annoy exactly the right people."
Gus Cairns, Editor
HIV Treatment Update

One year ago, I premiered my ongoing written and video Web site, "My Fabulous Disease," but make no mistake, my own site was birthed and nurtured by the talented staff of TheBody.com. I have been contributing to TheBody.com for more than a decade as a writer, and producing videos for the last several years. For that I am indebted to Bonnie Goldman, the founding editor of TheBody.com, and to the current Community Manager, Olivia Ford.

"A year of My Fabulous Disease isn't nearly enough. You've had the courage to address publicly, with your words and videos, the stuff a lot of gay men and people with HIV are accustomed to only thinking about."
Sean Strub, Founder
POZ Magazine

In this special video episode, I have some fun answering the most frequently asked questions about my videos -- and what it has been like exposing myself, figuratively speaking, to all of cyberspace. The bottom line: It has been an honor to reveal, report, and ruminate on life's challenges and joys as an HIV-positive man.

"Here's to many more years of Mark's disarmingly honest, charmingly sincere, frequently bittersweet, and, above all, community empowering video blog."
Edwin J Bernard, Journalist and Blogger

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I realize I'm not exactly an expert in the science of HIV or even a lot of the psycho/social issues involved. What I am, though, is curious. So I've tried to trust my own instincts and "ask the stupid questions" my Dad was talking about. Whether it was meeting teens at the AIDS conference in Vienna, exercising with fitness expert Nelson Vergel, or interviewing activists at the recent summit on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), I let my curiosity guide me.

"Happy Birthday to My Fabulous Disease! You're just what the doctor ordered."
Robert Breining, Founder
POZIAM Social Network

Sure, I've bombed a few times with my videos. It's been a learning process, and sometimes I misjudged a topic somehow, or just plain create a boring episode. Trust me -- or ask anyone here at TheBody.com, because they know how I worry -- I keep close tabs on the comments and on the number of hits. And I'm constantly second guessing my choices. As much as I want to trust my instincts alone, I can't help but want to be popular.

"I feel as if My Fabulous Disease is a sister site to "my glamorous HIV" way of life. More importantly, you've been able to create much needed dialogue within the community, and provide information with substance. We love you up here in Canada."
Brian Finch, Founder
PositiveLite.com

The episodes that mean the most to me have been the ones which were the most personal and didn't even focus on my HIV (like "Facing Change," about leaving Atlanta to renew a relationship, or "Taking Care of Hal," about caring for my dying brother), or the ones that were the most practical and instructive (like "A Facial Wasting Update" about my facial filler process, or helping people select the best physician in "Six Tips for Choosing Your HIV Doctor").

"You and your blog are such an inspiration to others whether they are infected with HIV or someone who is still negative. We are also proud to have you as one of our Dab the AIDS Bear's Ambassadors of Hope!"
Dab Garner, Founder
Dab the AIDS Bear Project

Along the way I have had the honor to meet people working as activists and elected officials and advocates around the world. How can I not be grateful and happy when I meet such smart and dedicated people? I know our HIV/AIDS crisis isn't rosy and I know people are suffering. I also know without a doubt that we are in committed, loving hands the world over.

"Laughter and lightness of heart have made a comeback in my life, thanks to your nutty taste. I have been reminded often that although our common condition is life (and death), it is no longer life OR death."
Rod Rushing
"On The Ten" Treatment Education Network

Let me leave you with this: We all have a story to tell. It is the story of how HIV/AIDS has affected our lives. Please, my friend, please tell it. Write an article or speak out on World AIDS Day. If you're more private, maybe you could just explain to a nephew what it was like when you once lost a friend to AIDS. Maybe it is as simple as asking your friends if they have been tested lately, and why it means something important to you.

There are so many people who write me, and they thank me for giving their experience a voice, because they cannot speak out. If you are blessed with the opportunity and ability to share your experience, then please join me. There is so much room, so much loving space in this world, for your voice and your story.

You don't even have to dress in drag when you tell it. It just helps.

Please be well,

Mark

"If Albert Schweitzer and Joan Rivers had a son, it would be you! Healing and outrageous all at once. Keep 'curing' us with 'My Fabulous Disease.'"
Chris Glaser, Author
"The Final Deadline: What Death Has Taught Me about Life"
"Happy Birthday! You are doing such a great job at portraying the face, humor and humanity behind a terrible disease that will continue to proliferate in our community if people like you don't continue to remind the rest of us that it still exists."
Zack Rosen, Editor
The New Gay

Send Mark an e-mail.

Get e-mail notifications every time Mark's blog is updated.

Visit Mark's live blog at www.MyFabulousDisease.com.

See Also
10 Black HIV/AIDS Advocates Who Are Making a Difference
More HIV Activist Profiles and Personal Accounts
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Kirk (Dallas, TX) Sun., Mar. 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm EDT
Mark,
Thank you so much for always being "real" with us. I have been infected with HIV since 2005 and I was "hungry" for hope. It is blogs like yours that provided and provides that. So, yes, it has saved my life as well. By the way, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY (I really did yell that.)!
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Comment by: Josh (San Diego) Sat., Mar. 12, 2011 at 5:56 am EST
"My Fabulous Disease". Well, it's certainly attention-grabbing. But I hope you don't really believe that title. There is NOTHING fabulous about HIV or AIDS, so I can only hope that you are using this term ironically, that you actually mean the opposite.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mark S. King (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Sat., Mar. 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm EST
This is the first issue I address in the video, so I hope you'll watch it.

Mel Brooks once said that the most powerful thing you can do to something you fear or hate, is to laugh at it. That was his thinking behind making Hitler hilarious in "The Producers." I happen to agree.

We all have our own experience to share. My own disease has been terrifying, sad, empowering, strengthening, and yes, quite fabulous. Because it is part of who I am, and I refuse to give this disease more power than I give myself.


Comment by: Ted (Louisville, KY) Fri., Mar. 11, 2011 at 1:04 am EST
Love watching your videos. They have got me thinking about doing something similar, but different. When I was diagnosed 2 years ago, I had no idea what going to an HIV doctor would be like, what tests, how to pay, etc. I'm thinking about doing a youtube blog where I take people on my journey of learning about HIV, meds, and the like. I haven't started meds yet, so I think it would be helpful to document that experience for people newly diagnosed.

I say different from yours, because I'm not as creative as you. And, you've already gotten over the fears of starting meds, when to start, and things like that. Having said that, I think that would be a good topic idea for you. I would bet many of your viewers are newly diagnosed looking for info. Those are the main questions I see--when to start, pros and cons of starting right away with good numbers, can we blame every ache and sniffle on HIV, and life expectancy concerns.

Anyway, I was wondering whether all or most of the folks at thebody are HIV poz as well. I started to crush on the guy in the bottom right of the screen..lol. Keep up the good work.
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Comment by: Mark S. King (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Wed., Mar. 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm EDT
Ted, I completely encourage and support you in your potential project. As I say in my blog text, we all have a story to contribute, and it sounds like your experience beginning medications could have real value, as you say.

Now, as far as the HIV status of the staff at TheBody, I certainly couldn't say. But if you're crushing on one of them, I urge you to remember that HIV status need never douse our dreams or romantic pursuits. That being said, whether or not the object of your affections is even gay, well, that might be a tougher fact to overcome. ;]


Comment by: Allen (Nasville TN) Thu., Mar. 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm EST
A year ago I thought your were nuts but Ive read and watched all your blogs and videos. We have more in common than I ever expected. You have brought me joy in some dark times in dealing with this FRICKIN disease.I know Im not alone in the struggleand that really helps. Thanks for the first year Mark. Now on with the second. Positively forward!
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Comment by: Freddo (Baltimore, MD) Fri., Mar. 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm EST
Happy Anniversary Mark!!

Always look forward to your blog. It's more than just a blog to me. Living in the hinterlands of Baltimore (I'm a NYC refugee. Unfortunately not knowing anyone who is HIV+ here (I'm sure there are many others here, they'd rather hide though...not too much fun at all), anyway, watching your videos gives me hope that one day, after my partner finishes residency and whatever else he's doing here, we can return to the living. Yes and I mean the happy, productive, forward looking, positive community of some other city. Anywhere, well not just, but anywhere other than Charm City. Ironic.

But enough of my doldrums, I love your videos, and especially this one. So happy that you have found a way to harness all of your exuberance, affirming, and supportive essence to help others smile in the midst of living a life that can leave one feeling uncertain and anxious.

I teared up along with you at the very end there. Much love to you, and may you always remain this full of light.

Freddo
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mark S. King (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Sat., Mar. 5, 2011 at 10:31 am EST
Thanks, Freddo. It means a lot to know my posts have meant something to you.

I also hope you won't wait too long to "return to the living," even if it's to coax other HIV+ people from their anonymity in Charm City. Maybe all they need is a self-possessed leader like yourself.

I just took a training to become an HIV testing counselor. It's a simple thing, but helping guide someone through finding out they are HIV+ feels like a great use of my time, and I think it will benefit me as much as them. Maybe there are opportunities for you like that.

Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment, Freddo!


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VIDEO BLOG:
My Fabulous Disease


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.

Speaking engagements: Mark King is available to speak to groups. Contact Mark about speaking at your organization or event!


More About Mark:
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Recent Posts:

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A Place Like This by Mark King

View an excerpt of Mark's book

To read PDF, click here


Interviews With Mark:

Mark King Looks Back at the AIDS Epidemic's Darkest Hour in the U.S. (May 14, 2008)

This Month in HIV: Crystal Methamphetamine and HIV (August 2007)


Articles by Mark:

Meth Burial (May 2008)

Outliving My Father (May 22, 2001)
Mark recounts how years of caring for friends dying of AIDS prepared him for taking care of his dying father
From The Advocate

AIDS Always Benefits from What We Don't Talk About (April 2001)


For the rest of Mark's articles, click here.


A Brief Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed by TheBody.com's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheBody.com itself.

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