Living With HIV : The Lazarus Effect - by Liz Highleyman

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Table of Contents

September 23, 2008

Living With HIV

Going the Distance

Look How Far We’ve Come

Beating the Odds

Staying a Step Ahead

The Lazarus Effect

What You're Talking About
Losing Hope (blog) (20 comments)

You Can't Hurry Love (14 comments)

I Watched Charlie Sheen on The Dr. Oz Show So You Don't Have To (blog) (14 comments)

Charlie Sheen S&%ts On 30 Years of AIDS Activism (blog) (13 comments)

Remember Their Names: World AIDS Day 2015 (blog) (12 comments)

Prudential to Offer Individual Life Insurance to People With HIV (7 comments)
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


The Lazarus Effect

by Liz Highleyman

When John Iversen, now 59, tested HIV positive in January 1986, he threw himself into AIDS activism, co-founding ACT UP/East Bay and a Berkeley needle exchange program. By the late 1980s, his CD4s had fallen to about 200. Observing that AZT (retrovir) taken by itself didn’t seem to help people, he joined a trial of Compound Q, an experimental herbal therapy. His CD4 count climbed, but he developed rheumatoid arthritis that left him bedridden and he experienced severe bowel problems caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.  

With a CD4 count of 46 in 1995, Iversen started a drug regimen of three NRTIs and a year later added a double dose of a PI. He gained 50 pounds, stopped his CMV treatment and could finally get around without a walker.

After a decade on the same PI, Iversen has had difficulty keeping his viral load consistently undetectable with his current drug combo. He hopes that a switch to Prezista (darunavir) plus Truvada plus the new NNRTI Intelence (etravirine) will do the trick. He’s had “no major side effects” on his current regimen, which he attributes to complementary therapy including vitamins, Chinese herbs and acupuncture. He also watches what he eats, does yoga and exercises regularly.

Though still on disability, Iversen works tirelessly as an advocate. He helps people with HIV in developing countries gain access to the treatments that turned his own life around, and he raises several thousand dollars a year for an orphanage started by HIV-positive people in Uganda.

Search: John Iversen, ACT UP/East Bay, needle exchange program, Berkeley, trial, Compound Q

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