From 1981 through 1987, new HIV/AIDS cases and fatalities doubled roughly every year. 1987 saw 40,000 deaths and nearly 50,000 new cases. And AZT hardly swooped in to save the day; in 1991, the CDC announced that one million Americans were infected.
Sunday, April 17, marked the 29th anniversary of the day I received the positive return on my HIV test results. I was only twenty four years of age at the time. just a kid really, although life had already matured me in many ways. Testing positive for the HIV virus honestly was not of any shock or surprise for me. Although my face went through the necessary expressions, almost out of politeness to the reader of these results. This was a planned infection and an expected diagnosis. This is a conversation I will sideboard for a separate writing, dealing primarily with a case of severe undiagnosed bipolar depression along with the many attachments that come with a complicated youth.
In the early days of HIV infection and AIDS. To find out that you had tested positive for the virus carried a great deal of dark weight. For many it still does, back in the day it often was considered a death sentence. During that period of time, at least speaking for the myself I lost lovers pals and icons through the battlefields of AIDS. Ignorance, government funding, religion, families, cultural indifferences, bureaucracy and the disease itself that showed little signs of slowing. All played a part in the war zone of AIDS.
During this time many men walk the streets visually looking like living corpses. Savagely thin, with other signs of fatigue, life fading from their flesh, lifting from their hearts vanishing from their eyes. Others choose to remove themselves from the social seen, understandably out of fear. Looking back I no longer blame them, fear is fear, it was about survival for many, a wake up call for some. On the other hand, some choose to push the envelope a little further into denial. Amping up the party favors or sex to excess. It is safe to say I danced in the pond excess with no regrets.
In reality it only made sense, that I too would eventually appear on the roster of death. Be it swift or slow, my time would come and I was sure to go. It did not seem to happen the way my friends and I thought, I am still here with a gratitude smile I continue to dance.
In the mid to late 1980’s AZT remained the primary toxic noose in use to batter the demons within our own blood cells and bodies. I am not here to argue the politics of the time or discuss conspiracy theories, that is past history, that I can not change. My only comment is do not be afraid to listen to your instincts. My intuition cried out to me the first time I opened my prescribed little white bottle of bi-colored capsules. For me I knew it was poison, the feeling nearly ruptured my nervous system. And I reacted accordingly without hesitation.
Upon arriving home I jiggled that packed plastic bottle of blue and white jimmies into my toilet bowl. I watched as they buoyed upon the shores of my porcelain sea. I paused for a moment with clear conscious, then gave them a confident flush and farewell. At this time in my life I was not so much a political person as I was an intuitive one. Years later, I was informed that this decision to discard the AZT may have been the best decision I could have made for my life. (please note this is not a medical advice column for another)
Now that I have entered my thirtieth year of living with HIV. I ask myself why am I still here? I do not know. I have never been hospitalized due to any HIV related issue. I have never had any “big” AIDS related illness’s and my T-cell’s have only dipped into the 300’s on a few occasions. Any “real” medical issue so far have been the result of situations strictly unrelated.
I am not sure how much of my HIV status defines who I am. I think it is more the fact that I am still here when so many are not. Crossing the threshold of thirty years is a significant moment in my life, I never thought about the importance of my status before. I am deeply moved and thankful, I can only assume I have lasted this long for a reason, like all of us.
I feel I have some “light” work to do. In my younger years, I was busy building a life resume of experiences, many of them thick and weighty. These last few years I have been in an accelerated course of healing with a vast absorption of knowledge. Perhaps I have stuck it out this long with a sheer determination and a soul understanding of my later years of living and my spirit mission.
I believe nothing in this life is a selfish act, we live, learn and share. This is the process of light, we radiate, we vibrate, we heal ourselves and each other. This is all part of making ourselves and each other whole. This is the beauty of all of life’s experiences, HIV or any other disease. All of life’s situations are an opportunity to grow and help another. Be it divorce, hard times, a tough day at school or work, it does not matter what we are experiencing in life everything and every moment has value. We live, love, learn, expand our hearts as we heal the world within and around us.
Love and Light Always
The Empowered Runt