There. I hope I’ve addressed your question. I am not well. I have never been well. But I continue to function.
I still do not see the correlation between HIV and my health; only a correlation in increased medical problems when I am taking the ARVs.
I embarked on my third course of ARVs since 1998. For ten of the sixteen years I have been HIV-positive, I was able to manage well enough without ARVs and I continue to believe there is no reason for otherwise healthy HIV-positive—let alone negative—gay men to take these drugs. To those who want to wave a recent study about the benefits of early intervention in my face, I would ask them why they put so much faith in a science that has utterly failed us to date.
I’m willing to grant that gay men are entitled to use PrEP… provided they have access to all the information they need to make an informed decision. Informed consent has been a hallmark of the HIV and AIDS research and prevention efforts for three decades, and that shouldn’t be waived for the campaign favoring PrEP.
Gay men deserve to know that all the claims for Truvada reducing the risk of acquiring HIV-positivity are based on trials—funded by Gilead—that emphasized the importance of using condoms…
In the simplest possible summation, Leibowitch has been treating HIV-positive patients with traditional ARV cocktails, called HAART. Where he leaves the path of traditional treatment guidelines is that once a patient is “stabilised”—meaning they have achieved respectably high CD4 counts, and their viral load is undetectable for six months—Leibowitch starts reducing the number of days per week that a patient takes these drugs, to as little as twice per week.
Each patient fell into one of three groups: <350 CD4 cells/muL; 351-499; and >500. This last group would be considered “normal” according to AIDS.gov, which lists the range for CD4 counts as 500-1000. Yet, according to this study, this group of so-called “healthy” patients were almost one and a half times more likely to experience a drug-related adverse effect.
The report reinforces another point that I find I must continue to drive home over and over again, and that is the definition of “low CD4 counts”.
In nearly every conversation I’ve had with Affecteds who are experimenting with ways to reduce the toxicity of antiretroviral (ARV) regimens, questions about “AIDS drug resistance” comes up. Resistance is often raised as a boogeyman in research trials of monotherapy and intermittent treatment options. While drug resistance—especially bacterial antibiotic resistance to staphylococcus or tuberculosis, for example—is increasingly a problem in modern medicine, one is unlikely to hear drug resistance discussed quite the way it is with AIDS. No other pathogen is described as “sneaky”, “clever”, or more mutable than HIV, despite the fact that retroviruses do not even meet most definitions for being a living entity, let alone have a brain.
I am dumping a lot of summary information here, without getting into details, but I need to start somewhere. When I zoom out and look at the big picture, it is clear that I am still a long way from being a “healthy” person, and frankly, I no longer expect to become one. The goal now is to mange chronic disease and maintain as good a quality of life as I possibly can.
One of the most vexing issues I’ve had to deal with since I started exploring alternatives to ART (antiretroviral therapy) for keeping my immune system as healthy as I can, is my inability to abide by some of the most basic rules of scientific research. I’m not beating myself up too much for this failure, […more]
Rarely a day goes by that I do not scan the headlines collected from various blogs and sources by Google Reader. Smashing a recent lull in AIDS news, some pretty outrageous headlines have been breaking through lately. Last week, it was Baby AZeTa, the little girl in Mississippi who researchers claimed was cured of AIDS […more]
As I spend time this week with one of my dearest friends, a man who has been HIV-positive since at least 1987, and who has been on ARVs almost continuously since 1990, I am reminded that Affecteds have always had the option to consider alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical treatment. Last night we recalled some of […more]