You see, for many of us HIV is just a piece of the many challenges life will throw at us. It's just part of our story. The emotional and physical significance of having HIV will shift over time to other more pressing issues occurring in your life. While HIV maybe the primary concern in your life and an underlying cause for other medical issues in your life; many of us living with HIV have much more going on. For me HIV has been just part of my story over this past year, though it has been the MAJOR underlying factor to most everything going on in my life.
For me in this past year since being diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis C I had other "life altering moments" (as I like to call them). Upon being diagnosed, I went away to an in-patient drug rehabilitation program to not only address an occasional weekend drug problem, but to come to grips with my dual diagnosis of HIV/HCV. I have overcome my drug problem, my HIV viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count upon successful completion of hepatitis C treatment is continually rising. I have had a sustained viral load since week 5 into treatment, and on my 26-week post-treatment follow-up, my doctor has no doubt that I will have eradicated the hepatitis c virus. Now I must take much better care of my heart as my cardiovascular disease is a more pressing issue than anything else.
Also, in this past year I had to give up my job in NYC and moved in with my dad and his girlfriend, then into my own apartment. Slowly I am rebuilding a new life for myself, and I have confidence that all will be well with me. Those are my issues, and I realize compared to many, my issues are miniscule.
I think about my mother who is on 5 liters of oxygen, is mobile, but must inch along her way as to not become breathless. I think about her upcoming lung transplant, and hope that she makes it to surgery. I worry that she will fall ill and have come so close to a better quality of life. I'm saddened by the loss of a friend's mother who recently passed away, she had severe dementia and then they found cancer. I am also feel sadness for a Facebook friend whose partner recently passed away.
I look back on this past year, and am concerned and saddened by all the bullied LGBT youth who have taken their lives at such a young age. I think about their parents and the heartache they must feel having lost a child. I think about the lesbian's couple home that was burned down in Tennessee with the word "queers" written on their home -- in an apparent hate crime. I am worried about the ADAP crisis occurring in the United States, people unable to get lifesaving medications; and who may die because of this.
Globally, I think about the 32 million others living with HIV/AIDS. I think about the man who set himself on fire in Egypt and began what would become a revolution across the Middle East. I think of the martyrs who died wanting a better life for themselves, their families and their fellow countrymen. I cannot begin to fathom the fear in the souls of these people living in these countries where these uprisings are occurring. I think about the persecution of gays in countries where being gay is punishable by death. I think about the 3 men who were publicly hung to death in Iran because they were gay.
My attentions are now focused on the people of Japan. The unimaginable pain and anguish they are going through. First a major earthquake, then a tsunami and a nuclear crisis and the climbing death toll; my heart goes out to the people of Japan.
My HIV and other problems become seemingly miniscule is the grand picture, and I am thankful for the simple things that many upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed and a long hot shower.
So, while HIV will always be a part of me, and I must remain cognizant of it. I must also remember it's not just about HIV and ME.
To my friends around the World. Take care, and be well. Till next time.
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