12-1-12 World AIDS Day
Cure AIDS? What began as a mere whisper-a dirty word almost-is now fast becoming a growing consensus. CURE. I must admit, I like the way that sounds.
I'm fairly certain that I could live without HIV. Hard to imagine, as we've been "shacking up" for over 28 years now. That's more than half of my life and legally binding in most states. I guess you could say I've accepted and learned to be okay with the fact that I'm HIV positive.
The early years (just after my diagnosis) were the most difficult. So much so, that I'm not really sure how I survived them--was by the grace of God, no doubt. But I don't like to dwell in the past and I don't like to waller in misery. What makes me happy, and what I choose to do is live in hope, dream big, and strive to make this disease somehow less difficult and more manageable for my children.
If you're familiar with my family and our story, you know that we were diagnosed with HIV in 1996, shortly after I gave birth to my second child. You can read our story HERE as it first appeared in POZ a few years ago.
My children and I are extremely fortunate. The medicines have worked well for us. In fact, my two oldest remained on the same regimen for nearly thirteen years and until recently were doing fine. Indeed, the medicines were working, but the side-effects of Sustiva (part of their drug cocktail, Atripla) had become worrisome.
Over time, my husband and I began to notice changes in our children. I'd taken Sustiva in the past and knew first hand about the effects. Then my husband, who doesn't have HIV, decided he would try one. I mean, how bad could it actually be, right?
After he recovered, he said no way could our kids continue taking it. They say that in some, these side-effects lessen over time, but for us, it was like my children were being drugged on a daily basis, literally. The kids had trouble concentrating in school, and driving, even 8 hours after having taken Sustiva was out of the question. They were still too "drunk." On the flip side, the medicine did control their virus. They were both undetectable. Still, you have to weigh the good against the not so good, and because we now have options, far more than we did a few years ago, we decided a change was warranted. We talked with our doctors and everyone agreed. There were blood draws and tests, long lists of "potential" side-effects to comb through and then a short break (just a few weeks) where the children were off meds all together.
They started Stribild (one pill taken once daily) last month and (fingers crossed) so far so good. They are doing great. I, on the other hand, am a basket case. Change--even good change can be frightening. We get comfortable and familiar with what we know, but really life and everything around us is changing all the time. Change-it's an evolutionary cycle; not always easy but it is necessary. We change our surroundings, we change our minds and sometimes, we even change our hearts.
I read something really wonderful the other day that I re-posted on Twitter
A quote by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci where he states:
"In terms of a cure, we should be expecting it, but we should also push hard for it."
I appreciated his words so much. Finally, what I've believed for and prayed over my children since the day of our diagnosis, has been validated. This important statement comes from the same scientist, who, years back, said we'd never cure AIDS. His words, his newfound conviction, will no doubt CHANGE the world and how we think about the possibility of a cure for HIV. Words, thoughts and intention are oh so powerful!
On this, World AIDS Day, we need to embrace the powers of intent, however fast or dreadfully slow they come and band together. We don't yet know the exact "when" or "where" but one thing is for certain: We WILL see HIV eradicated in our lifetime. Stay in HOPE. Stay in STRENGTH, and BELIEVE...a CURE for HIV IS POSSIBLE.
Want to help? Visit amfAR today and help spread the word that a cure for HIV is possible!