I have been collecting your annual HIV Drug Guide since your first issue. I used to go to a doctor who had the magazine in the lobby. Unfortunately, I’ve had to move to a less than tolerant part of the U.S., and my new doctor’s office does not carry Positively Aware.
I was wondering if you might know of a way to find two copies of the Positively Aware 2015 Drug Guide? It’s nice to look back at the old issues and see how many more meds are available and how many better tolerated meds have come along. Makes one think there may be even more in the future. I had no idea I’d live long enough to see a 19th drug guide.
Thank you so much for the work you do. It is greatly appreciated. You have no idea. I’ve slept with your magazines by my bed. They provide such hope. Cheers.
I would like to thank all of you at PA for still providing prisoners with free, printed treatment information on HIV, AIDS, and hep C. Prisoners in most states do not have Internet access. I’m sure I speak for thousands of HIV-positive inmates when I say thank you for providing this most helpful service to positive prisoners. We seem to be the forgotten minority with most all other AIDS service organizations. Please keep up this great service. Thank you!
—Johnny C. Smith
Coffield Unit, Tennessee Colony, Texas
I’ve been diagnosed with AIDS since March 2003. I’m wondering how long one can survive taking medication? My CD4 count was 6 in 2003 and to date the highest it has been is 259. As of April, it was 238. I am undetectable and have been for more than 10 years now. My viral load was 367,000 in 2003 and when I found out my condition, I had acute TB and MAC. No opportunistic infections since then. Praise the Lord! I am taking Sustiva and Epzicom. How can I get my CD4 to rise?
-Robert a. Trudy
Florida State Prison, Raiford, FL
Editor’s note: You should be happy to hear that HIV specialists believe the viral load is more important than the T-cell count. Many people are in the same boat you’re in, so we understand your concern and frustration. It’s great that you have undetectable viral load and your lack of OIs proves it. As for survival, it’s estimated that people on successful antiviral treatment will have a normal lifespan.
TREATMENT UPS AND DOWNS
I am on Prezista, Norvir, Viread, and lamivudine. My CD4 count is 882 and my viral load is less than 20—undetectable—since 2010. I was diagnosed in November 2009. I am 63 years old and thanks to PA magazine and staff I am doing well. My biggest problem is abdominal pain, excessive gas, and bloating. The info I get from PA has been very helpful to me. It helps me understand a lot about my treatment and how to best cope with it. I want to be an advocate and volunteer for clinical trials and research in the near future.
—John R. Hernandez
Terrell Unit, Rosharon, TX
BOY MEETS GIRL
First, thank you for the subscription. It’s a very informative guide and magazine. I pass it along for others to read and even get certain articles copied and posted wherever the prison allows me to post it.
I believe the most arguable topic is how the virus enters the body for the male who engages the female. Most people cannot conceive that notion. Please have someone elaborate on that.
Thank you again for keeping us informed. You are actually saving lives.
Editor’s note: Thank you for the opportunity to say that absolutely, men can get HIV from women! It’s known to be a very limited route of transmission for several reasons, but we know straight men who have been infected via heterosexual activity and their reality should not be discounted.
FEW RESOURCES FOR HEP C
I am a peer educator at the Arizona State Prison Complex, Meadows Unit. Our main focus is hepatitis A, B, and C; HIV, STDs, and hygiene. Last week I received a copy of the July+August issue—what a great source and wealth of information. I have been able to share it in our HCV and HIV classes on this yard. Thirty percent of our peers have HCV and about 5% have co-infection with HIV. There is little or no treatment for infected peers. We have a private, for-profit health care provider! HIV-positive peers never get to see a virologist. They get a viral load and CD4 cell count maybe once a year. There are no wellness protocols in place. There are over 1,200 inmates on this yard and just one doctor. This yard is a medical and mental health yard. They use the cheapest and oldest medication to treat HCV, peginterferon and ribavirin, which also have the most side effects, so severe most peers stop treatment. The hep C drug issue issue gave us so much information on all the new medications with far fewer side effects and those that treat co-infection of HIV. We are told that co-infected patients must have their HIV under control first. They forget that most HIV peers have been on meds for years and have their HIV as well as can be under control. Secondly, they just want to save money. What they fail to realize is that at some point most of these peers will be released and will have relationships and need to be as healthy as they can be. I survived HCV. I have an SVR [sustained virologic response] and am cured. I share my treatment openly with my peers, to let them know there is hope.