March #178 : Life and Death - by Regan Hofmann

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Table of Contents
 

Features

The Right to Give Life

The House That Love Built

From the Editor

Life and Death

Feedback

Letters- March 2012

The POZ Q+A

Speaking of Sex...

What You Need to Know

Gay Rights Go Global

Join POZ on the Road to Washington

Hershey's Bittersweet

HIV Isn't Bioterrorism

General Hospital Says Goodbye to HIV-Positive Character

We Hear You

Legalize It

What Matters to You

Helping to Find a Cure for AIDS

Treatment News

Bill Clinton Proposes Generic Pricing for HIV Meds in the U.S.

Rituxan Boosts Lymphoma Survival Rates

Microsoft Joins the Hunt for an HIV Vaccine

What You Should Know About HIV and Hepatitis

40% of Americans With HIV Are Older Than 50

Misuse of Neti Pots Can Be Deadly

GMHC Treatment Issues March 2012

Comfort Zone

Easing the Winter Woes

POZ Heroes

Best in Show

   
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


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March 2012

Life and Death

by Regan Hofmann

If my doctor had told me I’d live to see the 30th anniversary of AIDS, when I was diagnosed 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed him. At that time, doctor’s waiting rooms were filled with people on the brink of death. All I could think about was how long it would be until I joined them.

Regan HofmannWhen death sideswipes you and takes out the person next to you instead you’re left with a sense of survivor’s guilt. For years I wondered why I got to survive when others did not. Partly, it was luck. It was also because I was diagnosed when certain medicines were available. I had a job and health insurance so I could afford care. And I was diagnosed early, before I was too weak to recover.

Up to the mid ‘90s, it was understandable that survival was a dicey proposition for people living with HIV; scientists were struggling to get the upper hand on the virus. But a decade and a half later, we have more than 26 antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) capable of stopping HIV progression—drugs that also lower viral load so that the risk of transmission is reduced by 96 percent (if treatment is effective).

And yet, of the 1.2 million Americans estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, only 262,000, or 22 percent, are on ARVs. Some people aren’t on treatment because they may not yet need it or because they don’t know their HIV status (one in five Americans living with HIV are unaware they are positive), but many who want and need ARVs can’t get the drugs because they can’t afford health care.

But because HIV/AIDS remains something many would rather not think or talk about, because people erroneously believe it is under control, and because there is still too much stigma and silence around HIV—the mainstream media barely register the fact so many people with HIV can’t access treatment. The world needs to be reminded that people are still dying of AIDS in America.

Which is why we decided to feature the incredible work of Joseph’s House, an AIDS hospice in Washington, DC. A reflection of the disproportionately high HIV rates in the District of Columbia, Joseph’s House punctuates the fact that we still have a big problem. Having effective medications is of no consequence if we can’t ensure they reach those in need.

This month’s issue also examines the outdated law that bans HIV-positive people from donating their organs to other HIV-positive people. In “The Right to Give Life,” we show how removing the ban offers the double benefit of saving lives of people with HIV in need of organs while freeing up more room on the organ waiting list.

It’s time that HIV-related laws and health care policies got in sync with the reality of the AIDS epidemic in America. Even though we live in economically strained times, we must ensure people don’t die when we have the means to save them.

For me, survival guilt is worse when you know you could do something and do not. Early AIDS activists fought to develop the drugs that have saved our lives. It’s now our job to fight to get those drugs (and organs) to all in need.

I invite you to join me in this fight. Check out our new initiative at poz.com/roadtowashington to learn how we can end AIDS together.

Search: Washington, DC, District of Columbia, Joseph?s House, antiretroviral drugs, ARV


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  comments 1 - 1 (of 1 total)    

SICMOM, Kingston, Jamaica, 2012-04-03 13:41:00
I SHARE YOUR VIEWS, WHY AM i STILL ALIVE AFTER 20YEARS. lAST YEAR i BURRY ABOUT 10 PLWHA. WHY AM i STILL HERE. I SURVIVE MENINGITIS, LOW BLOOD COUNT AND ENLARGED WHITE CELLS. AT MY CLINIC I AM THE OLDEST SERVIVING MEMEMBER. SO....I'M "LUCKY"...LOL.

comments 1 - 1 (of 1 total)    

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