HIV+ people who have never taken AIDS drugs, or have stopped taking them.
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Nick

Hi. My name is Nick. I am a recovering alcoholic, 21 years sober and a 20-year positive man. Also gay.

April 1st 1991 I took my last drink after drinking alcoholicly since I was 13. A lot my drinking was party drinking, but there were a lot of times of solitary, desolate loneliness. I awoke one morning remembering the chaos of the day before and thought “This cannot go on.” I sought help for my drinking for the first time in my life rather than for the multitude of problems I thought I had that had caused me to drink the way I did. At last I realized my drinking was the cause of my problems and not the result of my problems.

I began the slow road back to health and sanity .

At around six months sober I got sick and incredibly depressed. After several visits to the doctor and several diagnoses from tonsillitis to glandular fever – usually with a suggestion to take paracetamol – I got well again. I then contracted a STD for which I visited the GUM clinic. I had become quite sexually active since getting sober. Sex had been of no great interest to me during most of my drinking. While at the clinic I asked to be routinely tested for HIV and 3 weeks later was given a positive result. The sickness I had had earlier had been serotoconversion. As a gay alcoholic in early recovery, this had not been picked up by any of the medical profession. I was given my diagnosis with a suggestion to not eat takeaway rice and to wash my hands after stroking an animal, stop smoking, and I will probably live around 8 years . I never took a drink, thank god, but the whole thing was devastating.

I took regular trips to the GUM for blood tests and saw all levels of suffering with AIDs and HIV. I was prescribed AZT, gave up work with the help of social workers and psychiatrists, and received disability allowance and prepared to die. The usual HIV-related illnesses – such as thrush etc. – were treated with more and more drugs and regimes, and I got sicker and sicker. Several times I stopped taking the meds only to be convinced by health workers and psychologists that something was wrong with me emotionally if I chose not to preserve my life by taking the medication.

I eventually stopped taking the medications and gave up the years of stomach upsets and general lethargy and illness.

I went for tests and my last cd4 count was 300, two years since any medication, and again I was encouraged to restart medication. “You are well now, but it won’t last,” they say.

Getting out of a disastrous longterm relationship and finding a little independence and serenity by working on my sobriety, I began to feel well and thought I needed to do something rather than spend days watching TV and waiting for things to get worse. I took on some voluntary work and realized I still had a place in society. Eventually returning to paid work and giving up disability, life took on new meaning. For the first time in my life I realized my own abilities.

I work long, physically demanding hours and get tired after a long day, but it is a natural tiredness from physical work.

I am well today and life is good. Lessons learned, and a belief that maybe I do know what is best for me. I am well now and that is enough for me. I stay sober one day at a time, live life one day at a time, and stay well one day at a time.

Thanks for listening.

 

Nick

You can send me an email.