This is mostly for younger people out there, straight or gay, who either don’t know all the facts or don’t know where to get them. But I think it’s important for everyone to know certain things we don’t hear about in the mainstream media often enough. And everything I post here can be looked up and confirmed in more detail, which I’d strongly advise everyone to do.
What prompted me to write this post was a comment I heard about how different things are nowadays with all the new HIV meds (ARVs) and that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence…it’s a chronic disease. And this is true, and this is wonderful, and people are now living their lives with HIV. But it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I’ve written a few blog posts about a friend of mine who has HIV and how I helped him get his disability insurance back last year. You can read a few of the posts here along with a few other things I mentioned about HIV/AIDS.
I’ve worked very closely with the AIDS Law Project in helping my friend have his disablity insurance reinstated and it wasn’t easy. I also got to know one of the leading infectious disease doctors in the world while doing this, Dr Jay Kostman. Since then, I’ve asked Dr. Kostman…and his wonderful nurse practitioner, Jodi…many questions while I was researching for my books, and he’s been more than happy to oblige. And frankly, I have never met people more dedicated to helping people stay alive and maintain the quality of their lives before.
But the point of this post is that just because there are HIV meds out there doesn’t mean you stop being concerned. You still have to practice safe sex at all times to avoid being infected with the HIV virus. My friend, who isn’t that old, is on permanent disabilty for a reason and his entire life has been altered. I’ve seen this first hand. There are side effects from the HIV meds that are far too long to list here. And each med has a different long term effect on other parts of the body, which in turn leads to other chronic illnesses on top of the HIV. So while it’s wonderful we have these HIV drugs…I’m not diminishing this for a second…it’s not as simple as most people would lead us to believe. There is plenty of information on the Internet if you don’t believe me. All you have to do is a simple search and you’ll see what I mean.
The trouble is most people don’t research what’s going on enough. And the mainstream media only skims the surface and leads people to believe HIV is a simple, treatable illness now. But like any other illness, diabetes for example, living with HIV is a lot more complicated than it sounds. I was shocked while watching an Oprah Winfrey show last year when I heard Oprah admit to one of her guests she had no idea living with HIV was as complicated as it is. I hope she’s learned a little more since then.
And, the HIV meds aren’t cheap. If you’re lucky enough to have good medical insurance you might only have to pay a couple of thousand dollars a year out of your own pocket. If you don’t have health insurance and you have to pay for these drugs yourself, it could run well into thousands of dollars a month, which can bankrupt you very quickly in these times of hope and change. Again, if you don’t believe me, just do a simple search and see what HIV meds cost. You’ll be amazed. The information is out there but you have to look for it.
The best thing, for now, anyone sexually active can do is to take precautions and think before you do anything with someone you don’t know. This is why the characters in my books almost always use condoms, even though it’s fiction and I don’t have to do this. And this is why I’ve always used condoms myself. I personally have zero tolerance for this. I’ve seen too much to take any chances with my life and my health.