Better to have AIDS than diabetes?
I was aware, of course, that AIDS has become more treatable over the years, but if what Andrew Sullivan (who is HIV+) says is true, I had no idea it had become that treatable:
HIV and I have had a relatively civil union these past twelve years. For eight of those years, I was on heavy-duty anti-HIV medication; three years ago, I decided to take a break from the meds, as their side-effects were taking a toll and I had unconsciously begun to miss some dosages. Amazingly, the virus never really bounded back, and my immune system maintained a very stable balance ... Until now, that is. My latest numbers show an all-time low for my immune system, 380 CD4 count, and an all-time high for the virus, clocking in at 140,000. It's one data point, and I'll get another before I go back on meds. But it seems to me that after three years, the virus has broken back out of its no-fly zone. Not too surprising.
... But a couple of things struck me talking this through with my doc. First off, my new med regimen may well amount to a mere two pills once a day. Just two pills. By this fall, the drug companies will have simplified the regimen to one pill once a day. The side-effects are predicted to be minimal (I'll keep you posted). Compared with what we pozzies were taking in the mid-1990s, this is an astonishing improvement. I was once taking up to 40 pills a day with crippling side effects.
The broader point: Yet another disincentive to getting HIV has evaporated. How are you supposed to scare people when the treatment is this simple, this effective and this easy? Compare the kind of medical ramifications of testing positive for Type 2 diabetes with testing positive for HIV. Your life is not as definitively shortened with HIV as it is with diabetes; the treatment is far less onerous; the lifestyle changes are fewer, compared with daily injections, monitoring your diet, and so on. All of this poses a big challenge to those trying to craft safer sex messages.
Of course, this all assumes you are in a position to get the necessary meds, which of course many are not.