Living Life For a Cure or Choosing to Live Life?

It has been 3 decades since many watched close friends, family, and loved ones pass away due to a non discriminatory virus that now effects millions around the world. We have seen great strides made in medicine from the release of protease inhibitors in 1996 to the single pill cocktails of todays day and age including Atripla, Stribild, and Complera. We have become more educated about the virus and how it attacks the body as well as how to combat it. We have went from seeing people be diagnosed with the old school term “Full blown AIDS” which is a stigmatizing term in my opinion however it has now converted to a manageable health condition. The variety of options available now that physicians have in their tool box is helping many of us living with this condition to have long and healthy lives. I am often asked the question about a cure. When will it come ? How would it change me? Would I be happy to be HIV negative again ?

forgiveness

A cure is something that I think anyone who is living with any condition would want. It is something that would free us of the stigma, discrimination, and daily adherence to medicine. When will it happen is anyones guess, I am not a researcher nor a scientist however I do hold hope it will happen in my life time. Am I living around waiting to live life so I can be HIV Negative again? Absolutely not… I work full time 40 – 60 hours a week and plan on getting back into college soon to pursue a degree in criminal justice and eventually attend law school. Life goes on wether someone has a health condition or not, wether we mentally decide to move forward with the dance of life is up to us, I choose to live. I have seen so many, even as recently diagnosed as I am, that simply choose to stay in a state of depression and grievance. Don’t get me wrong there is a time to cry, let it out, and be depressed about the major life change, however we cannot get stuck in that spot. We must continue on and come up with a battle plan for our future. This virus has changed from a death sentence to a manageable chronic health condition however if we let it slowly kill us inside mentally and psychologically, what is the difference really? We must pick up the pieces of the puzzle and continue on stepping, we only have one life, it is not going to wait for us to get any younger.

I think so many stay in the mind set that when a cure arrives we will be happy. For those of us who are HIV positive, do you remember that you were ALWAYS happy simply because you were HIV negative? Do you really think that being negative is going to guarantee a life of glee and glamour ? No, the fact is, if it is not HIV something else will arise. Life was never meant to be easy, not that anyone deserves this virus, however the simply truth is that life is full of challenges and problems. The old saying that someone is always in a worse off situation is so true, it is not to minimize our situation, we deal with a lot, however it is so true. Happiness is something that comes within, it can’t be given to you because of a test result, it cannot come from someone else, it comes from a deep place within us called our hearts. Happiness is something we have or we don’t have, simple as that. Are we living life to find happiness or are we happy living life ?

A cure for me would mean a second opportunity, a new door to be opened, to make more responsible decisions than I did in the past. It shouldn’t take getting diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to change the directions someones life is headed however in my case it did. My behavior got me to where I am today, I do not blame myself completely as I did something human, but deep down I know I should have made wiser decisions. It would give me a chance to continue to share my story as a survivor, to a disease that has been one of the most stigmatized in all of history. Wether positive or negative, I will never forget what this virus has taught me, nothing can take that away from me. Sometimes going through such an experience can really make us appreciate the smaller things in life that we never seemed to notice before.

Would I be happy to be HIV negative again ? To be honest, I am happy as I am right now. Would it be comforting to know that my health is in order? Of course it would. I do not want to have to take this medicine the rest of my life but if I have to, then I will. I am not “happy” because of my status however this virus has brought me to a place where I have found happiness. Am I satisfied with every part of my life? Of course not, I believe we all have things we wish would improve, or change but everything is a process. I would be happier to see those who have endured this battle and been surviving it for 10 + years to get a cure before me, especially those who survived the pre – HAART era. I don’t want HIV to be cured simply for me, I am not a selfish person, I want to see this virus wiped off the face of this earth because it has taken to many precious people. This virus continues to kill people daily, many do not have access to treatment or simply choose not to take it, and people are still making split second decisions in the bedroom without realizing the consequences. I think the world has suffered enough from the ravage of this disease however we who are still here surviving will one day live to see the cure. It will be a very joyous day, a day of celebration, a day of grievance for those who did not make it to that day, however it will be a day that will go down in history.

ribbon

HIV/AIDS for me is a hate love relationship, I hate what this virus put me through, though I know it could have been much worse had I not been tested. Mentally and psychologically this virus broke me down for a short time, to the lowest point of my life, where I thought all hope was lost. I hate the point that it brought me to however despite all that it has done, I cherish its lessons. I am very blessed to live in a day and age where treatment is available, though I do not think for one minute that we should “settle” for simply treatment. Would a cure change me? Yes I think it would but simply on a piece of paper. The real change happened within a month after I was diagnosed and learned to accept my new roommate in my body.

I choose to continue living life for me, not for a cure that I have no clue when will be here. When a cure comes, it comes, until then I know I can live a long and healthy life. In the meantime I try to continue to educate and promote prevention so no one has to go through what I went through simply to learn something. This virus is no longer a death sentence but a life sentence that you do not want to have to go through, you can be happy without having to contract HIV. It is something that I do not wish upon anyone and I encourage everyone to get tested, know your status, and continue to use preventative measures including condoms, prep, as well as risk reduction strategies. You only have one life, wether you are positive or negative, make the most of it !!!!

happiness

Thanks for reading everyone, I really appreciate it. I just got back from the doctor today and found out I am undetectable with 705 cd4 41 % which has made me super happy. So glad that my medicine Complera continues to work, and I hope that wherever you are in the world you continue to stay healthy. Much love and hugs to all, please take a moment to check out http://www.positivelite.com they have some really great information and articles from other bloggers such as myself who are surviving daily this virus known as HIV/AIDS. They are based out of Canada however their info is pertinent for anyone, regardless of where you are from, it is really a great site and I am so honored to be a part of it. Have a great rest of your week, live it up, don’t let life pass you by, go out and get it !

Sincerely

Joshua D Middleton

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