September #51 : Regarding Henry - by Becky Minnich

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

Table of Contents


Born to be Wild

Locked Up in Limbo

Amazing Grace

Chai Guy

Catching Up With...Ruby Amagwula

Desperately Seeking Separatists

Hack vs. Hacker

LA Snuff Film

Dole Banana Peel

Say What

Feel Like a Nuttall

Caps Are On

What Dubya Stands For

The Disability Dis

Emotional Rescue

The End of L’Affaire



Mother Inferior

Not for Adults Only

Get Over It

Lipo Handles

Topic of Cancer

Success Sucks

A Load of Fit

Thanks for the Complement

A Loaded Question

Message in a Bottle

Regarding Henry



Source of a Different Color

Mom's Recipe

Three Penny Opera

Letters to the Editor September 1999

Woody Cheers on Rx Marijuana

Digest This



Facts Behind the Fix

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

September 1999

Regarding Henry

by Becky Minnich

This Broadway swinger keeps AIDS up in lights

Thirty-three-year-old thespian Henry Menendez is known in the business as a triple threat: a Broadway “swinger” equally adept at singing, dancing and acting. He’s such a pro, in fact, that he hasn’t worked a single day job since his senior year at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music: While other theater types awaited their big break while waiting tables, Menendez toured Europe with Cats and Les Miserables before lighting up the Great White Way in 1991 in the Tony Award–winning Miss Saigon.

It’s hard to hold his luck against him, though. His laugh is quick and his manner easy, despite having had four nasty opportunistic infections since his first POZ cameo in the October/ November 1994 issue. While his 1995 AIDS diagnosis in no way brought the curtain down on his brilliant career, Menendez’s most recent public appearances have been in print—fans may recognize his gorgeous mug (if not the “HIV+” tattoo on his butt) in the current national ad campaign for Sustiva. And even if Menendez is eventually forced to retire, that’s OK, he says—he earned it, dammit!

Were you worried that appearing in a Sustiva ad would damage your career?

No. I was already out about being positive, so I had nothing to lose. Besides, a lot of Broadway actors have HIV, and there’s a consciousness around it. In Los Angeles it’s different—everyone has to be perfect and beautiful. I actually looked for HIV positive character roles in LA—and failed. LA is ruled by the TV and film industries, which are geared toward mainstream America. They’re afraid to do anything too risky.

Not exactly a place for someone with health problems.

Right. In the last five years I’ve had Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), human papilloma virus (HPV), intestinal parasites and wasting. I came down with MAC just as I was starting the first Miss Saigon tour. I had neuropathy and started showing up to work every night catheterized—with an IV drip attached to my arm via an Ace bandage. The directors were worried. I dropped down to 134 pounds, and my T-cell count was around 50. I was swinging 22 roles, which means knowing the parts, covering for sick actors and coaching new people.

How did you make it through the tour?

IV immunoglobulin is a great thing, I have to say. It cleared up my neuropathy in a month.

Have you had any luck with a protease regimen?

No. I’m one of those people who can’t take protease inhibitors—living proof that the AIDS crisis isn’t over. I’ve tried them all, and the side effects outweigh the benefits. I was part of an early Crixivan study, and it did lower my viral load and raise my T-cells, but it gave me terrible indigestion and stomach aches. Plus, I was starting to get a potbelly, and you can’t have that in my line of work. Now I take Sustiva, d4T and 3TC. Since 1997, I’ve also been on acyclovir for HPV and Bactrim for PCP. I also take the antidepressant Zoloft, testosterone and vitamins. I’m on ADAP, thank God, or I could never afford it all.

Any special diet?

Not really. I just try to eat well and keep my energy up. Unfortunately I still smoke, but I guess everybody has to have one vice.

How do you feel now?

Pretty good. Over the last year, things have been better. The HPV turned cancerous in 1997, but they got it all with surgery, and it hasn’t come back. I’m taking it easy these days—no more grueling schedules. I’m still swinging for the local production of Miss Saigon, but I’m not touring anymore, so I can sleep regularly and work out. For the past year my T-cell count has been 160, and my viral load between 4,000 and 5,000.

And now, for your next number…

Now I consider myself in semiretirement. I don’t want to say I’ll never get back to where I was before I got sick. But it’s been nine years since I tested positive—that’s a long time. I try not to project too far into the future. I have a great relationship and accomplishments that I feel good about. As long as I live day to day—sometimes minute to minute—I’m happy.

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.