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Living with HIV serious business

by Bradford McIntyre

The Vancouver Courier Wednesday, January 16, 2002

To the editor: You made my day when I picked up the paper, seeing three pages devoted to HIV/AIDS (Spreading the word, Jan. 2). I am grateful to the Courier and also to reporter David Carrigg for putting it out there when it so rarely is! World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, came and went with very little coverage of HIV/AIDS issues and news in any of the newspapers countrywide.

There is no doubt HIV infection is on the rise. People are not practicing safe sex and don't care! There are many factors to consider when examining this situation, but it does need to be examined and people made aware of the seriousness of HIV if you are infected. There has to be more information provided by the media in order to educate the public and create change.

There are individuals who may never develop HIV opportunistic infections or disease for many years, or ever. But they are fewer than those cases having to live with the roller coaster of high and low energy, of the ups and downs of HIV related health problems-fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, neuropathy as well as illness from the side effects of the HIV/AIDS medications.

These cocktails are no fun, as anyone on them will confirm. In general, health becomes a full time job to stay well and alive. I know; I have been living with HIV for over 17 years.

Most people have no real understanding of what it is like to live infected with the HIV virus, because they only hear about the sick and dying. Those who see the bulked up, muscle-bound image don't realize many of these individuals are not working, and the use of steroids is common, due to wasting and/or lipodystrophy. Many are not aware of how being HIV positive affects your relationships, career, travel and future. HIV should not be taken lightly. But without more attention given to proper information and a true portrayal, this disregard for the seriousness of HIV infection will continue to grow.

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