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

October, 2018

My name is Brande Carlo. I’m a 55 year old, female who tested positive for HIV 33 years ago. The year was 1985. On a regular visit to my gynecologist, I asked to be tested for all STDs. I asked the doctor to also test me for that “new thing” called AIDS. The test results came back negative for everything, except for HIV.  In an instant, my world collapsed. I knew my life would never be the same. I was a beautiful, 22 year old, young woman with big plans and dreams for the future. Suddenly, my life and living felt pointless. The thought of people being afraid to be near me and never being able to have a love relationship in my life was devasting and an unbearable thought. The AIDS stigma was brutal and merciless. I wasted no time planning my suicide. Fortunately for me, my best friend stopped by, to say his last goodbye, and talked me into living another day.

I decided not to go get retested because I had to live on the hope that the test was a false positive or maybe my lab work had been mixed up with someone else’s. That “hope” is what kept me alive and wanting to live. I blocked HIV, as much as I could, from my thoughts, in order to cope, move forward and live my life. I’ve lived my life since then in fear under a dark, threatening cloud. I had to carry the burden of living with my “HIV postive secret.” I locked that secret,  along with all the shame and fear that came with it, in the dungeons of my mind.

I completely avoided doctors for decades and never even got a yearly physical. I’ve never got sick, not even the flu (never had a flu vaccine), therefore I had no reason to go see a doctor. I was sure the fact that I’m a non-smoker, don’t use drugs, don’t drink and eat healthy has played an important role in my good health, but I knew there had to be more to it.

I buried “THE SECRET” but it often came out to haunt me. The questions and fears were always lurking around in my head. Was I really HIV positive? Am I contagious? Have I put my lovers’ lives at risk. I’m I in denial? Am I selfish? Will AIDS eventually catch up with me and kill me?

In 1997 I gave birth to a beautiful, heathly baby girl. At the time, the HIV test was not a requirement for pregnant women, so I made sure to keep my secret, a secret. I was terrified, that if I was, indeed, HIV positive, they might legally force me to take the prenatal HIV drugs. I wanted NO part of it. I was afraid it would cause irreparable damage to my unborn child. I strongly felt that scientists and the medical establishment didn’t really know everything about HIV/AIDS and were using people as lab rats, to do experiments with their drugs. My best friend, who was gay, died of AIDS in 1995. He tried every drug cocktail they gave him. He died a painful, horrible death. I knew that if I was, actually, HIV positive, my body was naturally doing a phenomenal job keeping me healthy, disease and symptom free. I also knew that no one in the medical or scientific community wanted to hear my story.

So I continued to live and mentally survive by keeping my secret locked. My daughter was a healthy child and never had a single medical issue.

In 2009, my brother, who was one of the only few people that knew I had tested HIV positive in 1985, suggested I go get tested again. He reasoned with me, saying “you’ve always been healthy, never get sick, not even the flu and it’s been more than 20 years.” He was convinced that the results would come back negative. So I thought the time was right, to get tested again and find out once and for all.

My life-long fear came true…I was HIV POSITIVE.

It was devasting news all over again. Only this time, I knew I had lived for more than two decades, healthy and diseasee free. The questions in my head were now pounding and impossible to ignore. Was my daughter also HIV positive? If she was, how would a 12 year old handle that news?  Would she become suicidal? What’s different about my immune system that my HIV had never developed into AIDS? Could it be that there are different strains of HIV?

I was a stressed out, single mother, with an overstretched daily schedule, raising an overachiever and gifted child. She had a heavy academic load and was dealing with all of the insecurities preteens deal with. This was not the time to drop this bomb on her. I knew that, one way or another, it would cause her severe emotional distress and dismantle her life.

So I kept my secret, a secret and continued living my life like, I always did, a healthy, “normal,” HIV negative person on Earth.

Fast forward to 2016. I was going through menopause, lost my job, had an accident and ended up in a hospital for three months. I had a concussion, a broken nose and a broken knee. There I was trapped in a hospital, surrounded by the doctors that I had managed to avoid for three decades. Immediately my HIV status took center stage and was put in the spotlight. They were shocked to find out that I had never taken HIV drugs or sought medical attention for my HIV. I told them I didn’t trust doctors or drugs and, it was obvious that my body was naturally doing something on it’s own, to keep me healthy for 30 years. Of course they insisted I was very uninformed and playing Russian roulette. They relentlessly put their fear tactics into high gear and explained that my “numbers” were dangerously low (cd4 count below 125) and I was at high risk for getting a life-threatening illness. They insisted that I was in denial, being ignorant, foolish and risking my life. They kept repeating, that the HIV antiretroviral drugs had come a long way and they were life savings drugs. So I caved in.

They put me on a 20 pill a day regime. For someone that had to think about it twice before taking a Tylenol, it was hard to cope with this pill popping, and this new life I now had to live.

At some point someone had to explain to me that I wasn’t just HIV positive, that I had AIDS.

I was in shock and emotionally crippled when I heard that word, AIDS. I asked, how can I have AIDS when  I’ve been a healthy person my whole life and have never had an AIDS related illness?

That’s when it was explained to me that my HIV positive status combined with a cd4 count below 200, means I have AIDS. That made no sense to me. I questioned who came up with that conclusion, when, how and why?

Of course they said that’s what the scientific brains had concluded. So I accepted my tragic story and for two years took the 20 pills daily. My brain was in a fog. I was never able to get a job again. After two years of this abusurdity, I questioned my doctor and asked what all of these 20 pills/drugs were for. I was shocked to find out that they had me on antibiotics, “in case” I got an infection, and all of these other unnecessary drugs. I was outraged and thought the world had gone mad. I asked if anyone; scientist or doctor could tell me what my body did, all on it’s own without any drugs, to keep me healthy for 30 years. Of course they had no answers. I told them, that moving forward, I was only going to take one pill, the Genvoya antiretroviral HIV drug. Needless to say, they advised me that wasn’t a wise decision. I went with my inner wisdom and disregarded their advice.

Fast forward to 2018. For a year I had just been taking one pill a day, Genvoya. A few months ago, I starting getting really concerned when I saw TV ads talking about the severe side effects and organ damage that the HIV/AIDS antiretroviral drugs are causing people. On my next visit, to the HIV/AIDS clinic, I asked my doctor what Genvoya was doing to my liver? The doctor answered my question by recommending I switch to a new antiretroviral drug called Biktarvy. After taking Biktarvy for five days, I was suffering from severe body aches, developed a swollen lymph node in my armpit and my could barely move my fingers. I immediately stop taking it and within 24-48 hours the swollen lymph node and body aches were gone, and my fingers were moving normally again.

This was a blessing in disguise because it put me on a different track; made me question all antiretroviral drugs, their side effects and the entire HIV/AIDS “thing.” Although, my whole life I had been secretly questioning the medical establishment’s conclusions about HIV/AIDS, this was the start of my journey, courage and determination to get to the truth. I’m now, for the first time in my life, taking control and openly RETHINKING AIDS. Even though I was never sick, have never had an AIDS related illness or a symptom, they had me taking the toxic antiretroviral drugs for three years. So I rebooted my brain, switched it to “RETHINKING AIDS” mode and against my doctor’s, family’s and friend’s advice, I stopped taking my antiretroviral drugs two months ago. I’m now 100% DRUG FREE. If everyone is right, I should be dying soon. However, in the past two months, since I stopped taking the drugs, my mental fog has lifted, I’m sleeping better and feel great.
After watching a Rethinking AIDS video on YouTube, I was inspired to email you and share my story.

There are too many unanswered questions that no one is answering.
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▪️Why do I have to take drugs if I’m not sick and I’ve never been sick?
▪️Why have I never had an AIDS related illness or symptom (even though I didn’t take antiretroviral drugs for 30 years and my cd4 count has gone below 125)?
▪️Why is my husband HIV negative after having unprotected sex with me for two years?
▪️Why was my daughter born HIV negative? (she got tested at age 19)
▪️Why is no one interested in answering my questions?
▪️What is the truth about HIV, AIDS? Where is the scientific proof to back these convienient and extremely profitable claims?
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I feel so much has been robbed from my life. I’m angry. I’ve lived a life with overwhelming, anxiety and under a dark cloud, unnecessarily, for decades, due to greed and unproven, reckless, scientific claims.

HIV IS NOT THE CAUSE OF AIDS!

I’m finally feel free and unashamed to tell my story.

Sincerely,
Brande Carlo