HIV+ people who have never taken AIDS drugs, or have stopped taking them.
Random header image... Refresh for more!

John H

I was 17 years old in 1985 when they came out with the first HIV test. In January, 1986, when I had dropped out after my first year of engineering studies at Purdue University, I tested positive as a result of a military placement exam at the MEPS station in downtown Indianapolis, IN. I was subsequently denied entrance to the Navy and told that I had up to five years to live, but that I needed counseling for my homosexuality before they sent me out the door. By that time I had already accepted that I was probably positive, having been out and sexually active in the gay community since age 16. I didn’t cry when I found out nor was I afraid, or so I thought, though the religious right proclaimed it was God’s wrath! I was young, free-spirited, and naïve. However, I was afraid of all the shame, fear, denial, and blame I saw in my community, society and the world at large.

At that time my desire for protection and to be with a “soul-mate” was overwhelming. Within months of my “diagnosis” and death sentence, I found exactly that person or, I should say, Robert Sexson, Jr., found me. When leaving the local gay bar, Our Place (now called Greg’s), Robert approached me and invited me to breakfast with him and his lesbian girlfriend from the National Guard Troop. As we were getting to know each other, we realized that we had gone to the same high school, and that I already knew two of his brothers and his mother, who worked in the school cafeteria. He was two years older and a genius in his own right but torn because of the psycho-social stigma around being gay, a lot more so than me. He had strengths that I didn’t and vice versa.  We were fractured yet complete, inseparable in a dysfunctional and critically wounded community, society and world.

I first tried crystal meth when I was just 16 years old, in the summer of 1983. Although my father had always dealt drugs like marijuana and LSD throughout my childhood to support his habit, he never drank alcohol and didn’t start dealing meth until I was 18. He later died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1988, which I learned was probably caused by his amphetamine use. Although he was severely abused as a child by a sadistic foster-father and had his share of character defects, he worked hard, loved animals, abhorred gossip, was loyal to his friends, and loved me unconditionally. Even though my father and mother were both “functional” addicts and patients of the diet doctors and pharmaceutical grade meth in the 1970s, they had a good work ethic and demonstrated many good virtues. My mother was very successful in her vocation and kept an immaculate home. She taught me not to judge, meaning “condemn” other people in word and deed, demonstrating those virtues throughout her life. My parents even went dancing in gay bars occasionally because the gay bars ”played better dance music” and my father loved to dance, often to my chagrin.

When I was about 17 years old, I learned of a recreational drug in the gay community called MDA. From my experience and perception, it wasn’t well-known in the Midwest and was typically brought in by older gays who had done it in the gay kink scene on the west and east coast. It is related to the now popular drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy.

According to http://www.gdcada.org/statistics/mda.htm, “these two drugs are chemical variations of mescaline and amphetamine. Also known as DOM, MDA was introduced into the San Francisco drug scene in the late 1960s and was nicknamed STP, an acronym for Serenity, Tranquility, and Peace. Doses of 1-3 milligrams generally produce mood alterations and minor perceptual alterations, while larger doses can produce pronounced hallucinations that last from 8-10 hours. Because they are produced in clandestine laboratories, these drugs are seldom pure and the amount of active ingredient in a capsule or tablet is likely to vary considerably.”

Wikipedia states, “Methylenedioxyamphetamine aka MDA or Tenamfetamine is a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug and empathogen/entactogen of the phenethylamine family. It is mainly used as a recreational drug, an entheogen, and a tool in use to supplement various types of practices for transcendence, including in meditation, psychonautics, and illegal psychedelic psychotherapy. MDA also differs from its methylated cousin MDMA in its acute toxicity, in that it is clearly more toxic with toxicity indicative of over-stimulation of the central nervous system. MDA is also considered less predictable than MDMA and thus its effects can vary greatly from person to person… However, no properly controlled experiments have compared these drugs in people.”

Cecil Adams states in his article, What Was In MDA, the hot drug of the 1970s? “Dope lore had it that MDA induced a sense of confidence and a feeling of warmth and empathy toward other people (hence the appellation ‘the love drug’).” He also stated that it produced “a tolerance in the body with use so that it took progressively larger doses to produce the desired effect each time. A rather simple mistake in the MDA drug synthesizing process could produce a toxic drug called PMA (paramethoxy-amphetamine), which made deadly poisoning a serious possibility.”

I only did MDA on a few occasions and it always produced an overwhelmingly, intense sexual high with hallucinations and severe, body muscle tension and cramping. It was the most intense and toxic recreational drug I have ever taken and it took me four days to physically recuperate after using it just one night with vomiting and severe physical fatigue.

It is interesting to note that MDA was used on the west and east coasts in 1970s and early 1980s, at the same time people began dying of the mysterious illness now known as AIDS. From my experience with stimulants such as MDA, MDMA, and methamphetamines, I know that they are often used compulsively and for prolonged periods. This compulsive use, along with preoccupation with sex, leads to malnutrition due to loss of appetite and dehydration due to lack of fluid intake. So the immune system is damaged directly by the drugs and indirectly by the lack of basic nutrition and hydration of the body. For studies that show immune suppression by the drugs themselves, see: http://www.mdma.net/mdma/immune.html

I believe that there is an obvious and strong correlation between MDA use of the affected gay community in the 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent immune collapse seen in so many gay men, especially on the west coast where AIDS began. MDA rarely trickled into the mid-west gay community from those who had connections on the coast. From my vantage point as a teen within that community, I couldn’t see it clearly at the time, but I eventually connected the dots and realized the obvious correlation. Later, I watched as MDA disappeared from the gay scene shortly after the introduction of the AIDS- inducing drug, AZT, as a treatment for AIDS. It is the only illicit drug I have ever known to disappear entirely from the scene and never return. All that remains is its weaker cousin MDMA; this raises serious questions in my mind about where all the MDA was coming from back then. Even at the peak of its popularity, MDA was not something I ever saw discussed publicly by drug enforcement agencies or in the media. And then it simply disappeared. MDA is virtually unknown to those in the younger gay community today.

I was raised agnostic by my parents and first became a Christian in the winter of 1988 when I was 20 years old. I remember believing it was only logical to be agnostic. After all, I couldn’t deny that there was a God nor could I believe in their God of love when the biblical portrayal of God didn’t demonstrate such…

Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there’s an INVISIBLE MAN…LIVING IN THE SKY…who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever ’til the end of time…BUT HE LOVES YOU!” [George Carlin, from “You Are All Diseased”]

At that time Robert drove a semi tractor-trailer for a commercial interstate transport company, and we visited every state in the country except North Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii. I’ll never forget those early days touring the U.S. with Robert. One day we were driving across Ohio on I-70 near Columbus, and I was switching channels on the radio specifically looking for Paula Abdul, when I stopped on a talk-show discussing a logical argument for the existence of God – something made me listen and for the first time, I believed.

Although I tried the “12 step” recovery programs, I don’t agree with their hypocrisy and dogma. The 12 steps claim the root cause of addiction is “selfishness and self-centeredness,” but that’s not it at all. The root cause is religion and a Church that robs us of our natural and good humanity, turning us on ourselves and each other. I believe that there are infinite individual paths to enlightenment that are constantly being forged so that we may find our way of our own free will, which will give to us infinite wisdom and love. My spirituality has shifted away from organized religion, and I’m becoming aware of real hope for humanity based in truth uncorrupted by the “Church,” see the Illuminati Manifesto.

In the past many viewed me as an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. However, I have only been drunk once since October 2008 and can have a beer or two socially without the desire or need to get drunk which I never used to be able to do. I don’t like hard liquor anymore and never really did, but I used to be taken to the emergency room stinking of gin, rum or vodka in tremors.

In spite of the death sentence that I received from the Navy almost 27 years ago and my personal life-long struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, I have survived and even thrived at times. I owned a successful business from 1992 to 1997 with Robert, whom I was with until he died of valley fever, aka cocci pneumonia, in my presence on January 4, 1997, and surrounded by friends and family. I have completed four years of college since his death — two years of semiconductor manufacturing technology with a 4.0 GPA and two years starting in engineering then switching to business administration and, finally, finding my passion in sociology with an overall GPA of 3.28, but I’ve never gotten a degree.

I was living in downtown Milwaukee about four years ago and using the dirty city water in my coffee pot, which didn’t get the water hot enough to disinfect it. The city of Milwaukee, especially downtown, has notoriously dirty water from sewage backing up from the deep tunnel sewage system and Lake Michigan during storms into the water supply. It’s notorious for cryptosporidium and God knows what other septic organisms. They often put out alerts to boil the water after rain storms. In Milwaukee, I suffered a year-long bout with diarrhea and my health dramatically declined for the first time in 19 years of being “HIV+.” I was struggling in a new co-dependent relationship and in and out of alcohol and drug abuse. Needless to say, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Out of fear, I started “antiretrovirals” in 2005; afterward tests indicated that my health VERY SLOWLY had started to improve but the diarrhea persisted.

I didn’t start figuring it all out until I moved away from Milwaukee to Minneapolis. The diarrhea disappeared quickly and completely, and my numbers and health improved dramatically in the summer of 2008, even though I wasn’t taking ARVs at all. Suffering from persistent, nagging fears and pressure from the medical establishment and my community, I’ve taken ARV’s off and on since, more off than on. I’ve documented my labs all the way back to 1995 and believe my “numbers,” once examined closely, will prove no support for commonly accepted HIV=AIDS theory.

Below is my senior picture that was taken in 1985, one year before I tested HIV+, and a portrait taken in October 2008. Not bad for being told I had AIDS and was handed a death sentence, with only five years to live, when I was 18 years old. What happened to my just punishment from God?

I’m Alive and Well, who’s in denial?

You know it’s time to stop “party and playing” when you think the Pink Elephant in the Velvet Closet is SEXY, but you’re terrified it wants to stomp on you!

Love Always Anyway,

John Robert Hankins