HIV+ people who have never taken AIDS drugs, or have stopped taking them.
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Hello, my name is Anne. I want to share my story. Back in 2003, I went to college in NYC. I grew up in the Midwest, in a traditional family. Being away from them in a city like that I kind of went a little crazy. I experimented with drugs, sex (often unsafe and with strangers) and I pretty much partied all the time. I barely slept and I ended up having only one meal per day because I had no time to eat and the drugs I took stopped me from becoming hungry.

Winter came and I came down with a cold. I would cough constantly, I felt short of breath and when I came down with a fever I went to the hospital where I was diagnosed with PCP pneumonia. They pretty much forced me to accept getting tested for HIV. Of course the result was positive. I was too sick to feel fully devastated but all the causes were there: drugs, unprotected sex etc. Plus pneumonia, according to doctors, was an AIDS-related disease. My parents came from home; it was tragic, especially when I refused to take the retroviral drugs they almost forced me to start taking.

I ‘d rather die than have to take meds for the rest of my life. Around that time, a friend of my parents recommended this doctor specializing in lungs who lived upstate. He agreed to treat me just for pneumonia. The other two doctors said it was useless because “my immune system was too weak to respond to meds”. We gave it a shot, and I was given Bactrim through IV. After week 2, I was barely coughing. I had enough energy to shower and walk around a bit, and my lungs were receiving oxygen like a normal person. I was then discharged from the clinic. I continued the treatment with Bactrim for two more weeks taking 9 tablets a day, which was a pain because I developed a rash and heart burn, but the pneumonia was gone.

My lungs were clear in the X-Rays! I am supposed to be dead according to the other docs because my body had AIDS all over and I didn’t take any of their retroviral crap. But I got cured with a simple antibiotic which means my immune system wasn’t after all in such a terrible state. After that episode, I stopped injecting drugs, I began to eat and sleep properly and I gained weight. Now my BMI is 20, before it was down to 16. The past years I had the flu like everyone else but it went away on its own. I never got tested for HIV again.

People are bound to get sick in their lives, it doesn’t mean you have AIDS. My mother had TB when she was 3 in 1959, it doesn’t mean she has AIDS. She is alive and kicking and healthy as ever. My point is that people should get informed before accepting to get tested for HIV, and get informed about the drugs you are given or told to take. You have options.