friend with HIV

HIV, Condoms, and What So Many Don’t Realize

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.

Insurance Appeal, a Friend with HIV/AIDS, and a Happy Ending

Those who have been following me since last November, know that I’ve been working as legal power of attorney for a good friend who is HIV positive. He’s disabled and can’t work. For the past two years, he’s been receiving disability from an insurance company. In November, the insurance company canceled his long term disability and said he was ready to go back to work.

So he asked me to help him appeal the case, which I did. And then I hired an attorney to help because I didn’t want to take any chances. This is someone who is truly disabled, and I thought it was important to make sure everything was done correctly.

And this week, after six months of dealing with a grueling appeal, my friend was notified that his disability has been reinstated. Though we went through tons of paperwork while filing the appeal, I took my friend to an IME (insurance medical exam) that was set up by the insurance company a few weeks ago. This doctor works for the insurance company, and all she had to do was go over his past history and give him a basic exam and she could see he was in no condition to work.

It’s a happy ending, yes. My friend is finally able to relax for the first time in months. But it would have been so much easier all the way around if the insurance company had just set up the IME six months ago.

Update on my Friend with HIV and his Disability Insurance Appeal

As some of you who have been reading this blog know, I’ve been working with a friend and helping him with a disability insurance appeal. He is HIV positive, has chronic disabilities due to the fact that he didn’t know he was HIV positive until it was almost too late, and his long term disability was canceled last November.

Even though I haven’t mentioned this on the blog for a while, it’s been a non-stop process since November and I’ve been working with an attorney to make sure I get it right.

And it’s now down to the wire. Last week I drove him to Philadelphia for an IME. This is an Insurance Medical Exam, where he was checked out by an ID doctor the insurance company chose. The IME is the final stage of the appeal process. If his long term disability isn’t reinstated after what the insurance company’s doctor saw last week, there’s something seriously wrong. And if this is the case, I intend to continue fighting this until we win.

But for now, I’m hoping for the best and I’m hoping his insurance is reinstated. He’s been through more stress in the last three years than most people go through in a lifetime. And having long term disability denied, after all he’s been through, considering all his physical disabilites, just isn’t fair.