As a gay man who is HIV-positive (and a cancer survivor), I’m a member of several support groups. It isn’t always easy to maintain an upbeat and healthy attitude, especially when you’re single and live alone. I live alone by choice; single, not so much but no need to dwell on it. >^..^< It'll either happen for me one day or it won't… Until then, I get to run around the house nekkid (not a pretty sight) and I have control of the thermostat! What could be better (besides the obvious “somebody to cuddle up with at the end of a long day!”)
To get serious however, a fellow member of a group for HIV-positive persons posted about how difficult it is to keep a positive attitude while watching his best friend (who is also HIV-positive) wasting away. It really isn’t my place to repeat the entire comment here as it’s personal and was posted in a private group of which I’m a member — but I’ll share my response (below) for the benefit of others who might be reading and feeling similarly.
I was diagnosed 2 days after leaving an abusive ex. In the beginning, I availed myself of the Ryan White Act and was cared for at Parkland (the county hospital here in Dallas) but it was always such a hassle it seemed, having to take practically an entire day off for a one hour appointment. (You spend a lot of time just waiting in the county hospitals; that is my experience anyway.) When I was finally hired (I’d been working as a temp) full time and given health benefits at the company I’d been working at, I chose to stop going to Parkland. After all, I felt “fine” and my numbers were good. Basically, I just checked out and decided to stop focusing on my HIV status; it was a constant reminder of my ex, who had exposed me to the disease. In early 2006, my back began to hurt and the pain became so intense that nothing would alleviate it. I had a nagging feeling that I needed to find out where my counts were and figured that I would ask the doc for a referral to a back surgeon during the same visit. Bottom line, my numbers were not so good. My CD4 count was 297 and my viral load was 173,733 — and then my doc ordered CT scans because he suspected I might have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (which I did). I underwent chemo for the cancer and my CD4 count dropped further (to 219) but today, I’m in remission, my CD4 count is (as of October, ’11) 795 and my viral load is undetectable. [Name removed], I’m not saying that your friend will have the same story as I did… I’m only saying that as difficult as it seems, don’t lose hope. I don’t know if you have a faith in God or some higher power or not, but if you do then simply pray that your friend’s journey is His will and that any pain or discomfort will be eased. We don’t know what the future holds (for any of us) but as persons who have been exposed to HIV I believe I can pretty much say we would all agree that Life is short and meant to be cherished. (Also, I STRONGLY believe life doesn’t end when our bodies cease to function. I am a faithful believer in reincarnation, the afterlife, etc. for a number of reasons very personal to me … so even if your friend’s story is cut short here on earth, he will continue to dwell in your heart and will be waiting for you in the afterlife.) Much love, many hugs…