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Understanding HIV/AIDS

When it comes to how we view HIV/AIDS, the most visible, is the fear, illness, disease and death tolls. What we don't see, are the great numbers of individuals infected with the HIV virus, living! We don't see or hear about the countless individuals who have been infected, who are not using HIV drug intervention. We must not, we can not, discount the ability of individuals to have a positive impact and create wellness, using every available means they have to combat the HIV virus. From the beginning when HIV first hit the gay community, no treatment, meant people went into action and sought out alternative therapies and supplements and created a network. A network for wellness! Many individuals who have tested positive, and many who have never been tested, but are sure they would test positive, have never taken HIV/AIDS drugs. Taking responsibility for their life and health, has been overwhelmingly effective. Out of a probable 17 years living with the HIV virus in my body, I have gone without drug treatments for 13 of those years. But we don't see or hear this side! We also miss seeing and hearing about individuals engaged in drug treatments, who go off their medications for months and even years.
Recognizing the ability of the body to heal, promoted many to choose to combat HIV in a non medical direction. Often times people were effective in preventing illness and disease for years, before drug intervention was ever necessary. Time allowed, because being infected with HIV does not mean instant illness, instant death! Others have gone on living, never having any sign of HIV/AIDS related opportunistic infections, illness or disease. Some, although they test positive, there has never been any virus replicated in their body. Equally so, those who are on drug treatments, have learned to address the importance of diet, exercise, alternative therapies and supplements, mind, body, spirit.
Living life and living years, 20 years for many, with more to come!


So much fear has been created around HIV infection and AIDS. The camouflage uniforms worn in the army, disguise and hide, so not to draw attention, able to blend in. The fear associated with HIV/AIDS has kept us in the dark, many fear loosing their family. friends, home and job, causing people to hide the fact they have been infected with the HIV virus. So no one can see, hear, or know the truths of those living with HIV and AIDS. Most often when individuals die from HIV related illness or AIDS, the funeral announcements rarely say HIV/AIDS was the cause, but use cancer, heart disease or any other camouflage.


How can we tell the real number of HIV related deaths? How can the public know and understand HIV/AIDS, without the truth? Individuals dealing with HIV and all those around them who are affected but not infected, they know these truths!
Science, pharmaceutical companies, the medical profession and government, have all but ignored much of what many people living with HIV/AIDS have to say, which is a major contribution in the understanding of this virus. Science and the medical profession provide HIV/AIDS information to the media. The media takes this information and in so doing, does it without a real balance of understanding. Unfortunately the fear has undermined our understanding. We see people dying, and certainly in many parts of the world there is malnutrition, lack of medical attention and affordable pharmaceutical resources, causing countless deaths. We see the fear associated with sex and the need for safe sex practices! We hear about the deaths.


We hear about drug cocktails, medications being approved. We see people taking a handful of pills. We hear about the resistance to drugs, and we visually, through the media, see those sick with wasting syndrome, PCP pneumonia, kaposi's sarcoma , or crippled by neuropathy.


What is alarming about this situation is the medical profession holds the HIV virus responsible for any and all illness when a patient is diagnosed infected with HIV, using the excuse that a condition is HIV related. It is because of this rampant over diagnosis that little or no search is undertaken for what is causing the health problem. Many have died, many suffered greatly due to mis-diagnosis or no diagnosis. Other diseases occur, and with a condition in progress or out of control and very little attention given it, this allows for many suffering and dying. Not from HIV, but from an invasion of bacteria, fungi, viruses and cancers, unaware to those not looking.
We don't see individuals living a happy and full life, whether it be with or without drug treatments. And we don't see it because the fear has people afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS or disclose they have been infected. So we don't have people coming forward to tell their side of HIV/AIDS. How are we going to get people to come forward when the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS has created so much fear. People are hiding their HIV infection! This is likened to the early days of cancer, hiding the fact, only whispering the C word! Everyone who develops cancer does not die, it makes no sense to believe everyone who is infected with HIV will get sick or die either! We don't see those who get sick but benefit from the drugs and have their health restored, many returning to the work force. We don't see or hear about individuals who test positive for HIV or have AIDS, in relationships, falling in love. We don't see the many relationships where one partner is infected and one is not, and the partner who is negative, is not infected.


The public needs to understand HIV and let go of the fear, each person taking part in a global prevention strategy. These days pharmaceutical resistance is evident, with HIV, not only is a person infected with a strain or possible multiple strains, but along with it, comes the possibility of resistance to all the drugs the infected individual has taken.
We don't know how each person will react to HIV infection. We need to put money back into wellness!
We must not wane from our efforts in safe sex education, prevention, and research. Never was it more important to keep up our efforts, creating less toxic and affordable drugs, and providing proper health care including alternative therapies and supplements.


With proper awareness and education, we can go about living our lives responsibly, " showing up for life", without fear. Not afraid of talking about HIV/AIDS or conversations about safe sex.
Letting go of the fear, we can all talk to our family and friends and co-workers we discuss our personal lives with. Our employer can know health related information. And, if need be, we can ask for help and receive help! We can also eliminate false perceptions and judgments due to shear ignorance. There is more power in people knowing the truth, than there ever was in the fear and hiding! A shift in perception is nothing short of a Miracle!

 


by Bradford McIntyre
bradford@vancouverbc.net
http://www.positivelypositive.ca

 

sent via email December 2001

 
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