Hello! It’s been a while since I shared some POZitivity with you. I hope all of you are doing well and safely keeping busy. It is wild to think that March was the one-year mark of when the pandemic changed most of our lives. I would have never thought that one day we would be in such an awful situation. So many lives were taken and so many fought and continue to recover from COVID-19. I was particularly worried since they warned those living with a compromised immune system that it could be a very dangerous thing. I am thankful that I was able to stay healthy until I was vaccinated in February. I hope that all of you continue to stay healthy as the CDC changes the guidelines as our lives begin to “normalize.”
I know that last time I had promised to go over some of the wonderful resources we have in the community to support those with HIV. Most of us know or have heard about the LGBT Center in Hillcrest. If you have not, you will learn about some of the amazing services they offer. They provide HIV rapid testing; they have a few support groups; living with HIV and HIV-positive seniors discussion group. I know they can also get you into contact with a local organization or medical group to better assist you in possibly finding mental health care.
The San Diego County Clinic (Rosecrans) also offers case management, mental health counseling, including psychiatric services, and referrals to health and support services. The clinic can also assist in signing you up for the other programs like Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. For individuals that qualify, they will receive free, quality medical care from HIV specialists.
Family Health Centers of San Diego also provide risk counseling services, case management, HIV care, individual and family/group education amongst many other services. It is truly amazing that we have some awesome health services in San Diego. You aren’t alone and should never feel that way. Programs exist to help those in need and we are fortunate enough to be able to receive these and have them so easily accessible.
Another person I would like to add is myself. If you ever have any questions about my journey or advice as a fellow community member, please write in and ask away. I am by no means a medical professional but I may have gone through something similar and sometimes it’s easier to connect and talk with a peer rather than a doctor or medical service provider. I just want you to know that you are never alone and no matter how alone you might feel, I know that there are those out here that care about you and want you to live a long and healthy life.
I know that in a previous entry, we had talked about my first medicine and learning to take that on a daily basis. Many years later and I am still on one pill, once a day, around the same time daily. I was recently moved over to Biktarvy and I have to say that I believe that my body is responding very nicely to it. I haven’t had any weird dreams or fatigue like Atripla. I am so thankful that our medication has evolved so much. I know that one pill contains a few different medications combined in it but I’d rather have one pill to take than a cocktail. I hope that one day soon they are able to find a cure for it and provide the newer generations a new medicine that maybe mine won’t see. With medicine evolving constantly, I feel like it will only be a matter of time and funding before a cure is found.
If you become HIV-positive, your goal would be to become “HIV POZ undetectable.” This means that your viral load is where antiretroviral treatment (ART) has lowered your HIV to very small quantities that it can no longer be detected by a standard blood test. When you become HIV POZ undetectable, that truly means that you can no longer pass HIV through having sex. It doesn’t mean that your HIV is cured and that you no longer have it, just means that you are properly treating it and the levels are very low. I have been undetectable for many years and grateful to be able to have such low levels of copies in my body. That is truly all because of the medicines we have today. I wish that many of those who died in the early years of AIDS had similar treatment and they did not have to suffer as much as they did. But I am also very thankful that through their trial and errors, medicine was able to evolve to what it is today.
I close this short informational entry with this:
“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it.” – Princess Diana
Until we meet again, remember you are loved!