What does it mean to be HIV-positive today vs. twelve years ago? And what will the next ten or twelve years entail? Oh, how I wish I had a crystal ball and could foresee the future! This much I do know... It's going to be great. We've come so far! I was talking with a friend of mine awhile back who lives in San Francisco. She retold a harrowing account of what it was like to be positive in the late eighties. She remembered all too well the horror of seeing people in their prime, thin and gaunt, walking the streets of San Francisco hooked to oxygen tanks; friends–people she cared about were dying of some strange disease they called AIDS. She recounted with tears in her eyes, the hospitals and quarantines, the chaos and world hysteria we all felt as we tried to figure out what was happening... What this thing called AIDS really was. It's been a long, long road.
Twelve years ago, when my children and I were diagnosed, there was little hope. One doctor, in fact, told my husband and I to go home and enjoy what time we had left with our children because there was nothing more he could do to help them. Two months later, an experienced team of new doctors at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital gave us hope when they agreed to begin treating our children, then ages 4 and 9. They have been well ever since. Better than well. The virus in their blood has been undetectable for almost ten years and their immune systems are better than normal. We got a second chance at life.
Did you know that today, a child born with HIV who has access to medicine cannot only expect to grow up but also, to grow old? We've made such tremendous strides in a relatively short time. Having lived with this disease for twenty-something years, I can't say I'll miss it when the day comes that I'm cured but I can say that it’s changed me in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. I think hardships are just opportunities for growth. It's not what hardships do to you, it's what you do with the hardships that matter.
Over these next few posts, I'll be sharing some of my experiences and lessons learned regarding disclosure along with some exciting advances in medicine. Everyday, things are changing and now is the time for your hearts to be filled with hope... For your children, your families and your future. I am always open to questions and thank you so much for your comments and readership. What I'd like to leave you with today is a feeling that all things are possible. Some people may say that a cure for HIV isn't going to ever happen or will come only "when pigs fly." Well then, here's your flying pig. Kinda cute, isn't he? : )
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