Tuesday 1 December 2020

World AIDS Day 2020

Of hopes and aspirations

World AIDS Day, a time to reflect on experiences and life, the sufferings and the blessings, along with the prospect of things to come. During this Coronavirus pandemic time, I would think many of us were first concerned that we would have to shield way back in March and then we learnt that if our CD4 cell counts exceeded a particular number and we had an undetectable viral load, we were safe, yet had to be careful.

We have endured many false dawns of HIV/AIDS cures, either functional or actual, the quest for a vaccine, remains just that, a quest. The antiretroviral drugs that I have been on since the 30th of September 2009, with one change and the trial of a third that I aborted because of horrible side effects have given me a productive and rewarding quality of life. I am very grateful.

Of knowledge and action

It is important we all know our status regardless of activities and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge accumulated over 3 decades that makes the treatment and management of HIV easier and better than it has ever been. We should not be afraid to get tested and avail ourselves of the extensive support systems that will help with the radical adjustment to life, livelihood, and happiness after a positive HIV result.

I remember when I developed full-blown AIDS in 2009 with opportunistic infections and Kaposi’s Sarcoma manifesting as an aggressive fungating tumour and cancer on the soles of my feet, it is the body of knowledge acquired that gave my consultant the confidence to say it can be treated and if I responded, I will come out alright. The prognosis without that knowledge would have been just 5 weeks. It is the same type of cancer that killed Fela Anikulapo-Kuti just 12 years before my own diagnosis.

Blog - Remembering Fela (1938 - 1997) through our shared history of AIDS

Blog - A primer on cancer and chemotherapy

Of life and possibility

Obviously, there is still work to do, knowing that you can still live a full productive life and go on the adventure of life, experience and achievement without fear, dealing with the stigma that associates with HIV is still an area in need of enlightenment, information and education, then most of all, if we have HIV under control, we have a passionately wonderful sex life and even have children, for it is the accepted fact today that if you are Undetectable then the virus is Untransmittable to your partner. [NAM AIDSmap: What does undetectable = untransmittable (U=U) mean?]

Blog - Dealing with sexuality and HIV stigma

I have lost many friends along the way to the scourge of HIV, all from the early 1990s when treatments were not sufficiently good enough to give people the hope of survival. I remember them quite fondly, in their friendships and their adversity, they laid foundations on which we stand in the celebration of life.

More pertinently, I am thankful for the medical teams first in the Netherlands and continuously in the UK who took on the challenge of providing the most professional and rewarding medical care. Friends and acquaintances that were an immeasurable source of support and strength, to God who gives life and humanity, that mines the amazing resources of hope and innovation to give us better stories to tell.

Blog - Cancer is a human experience, not a battle won or lost

Blog - A decade from AIDS to life and living

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