I had my quarterly check-up last week. The usual dizzying round of numbers, questions and never being entirely sure whether I have anything to worry about. At 549, my CD4 is almost as high as its ever been, and my viral load remains undetectable. But then my doctor says there’s something about my kidney function which requires follow up with my regular doctor. Call me stupid, but I don’t fully understand what the issue is, although its something to do with a potential side affect of Truvada and how it impacts on renal function. So more careful monitoring is required apparently, although why its going to be done by my family doctor rather than my HIV specialist I’m really not sure.
I never did claim to be a good patient. You know the kind. Instead I put all my faith in the decisions made by my HIV specialist, often made with less than perfect patient/doctor consultation, with me trusting he knows what he’s talking about it. Luckily, he usually does.
Truth is HIV comes with a price. We are expected to be good patients. We are expected to be in charge of our own health care. We are expected to understand the intricacies of modern medicine. We are expected to live healthy lives, to eat well, to look after ourselves, to navigate social security, housing and other disability issues as if we’ve done it all our lives. We are expected never to miss a pill. We are expected to routinely discuss our status to sex partners. We are expected to know the quite complex laws around disclosure. We are expected to educate others. The list seems endless. And it’s hard, really hard, to live up to all these expectations while coping with the day-to-day realities of a serious condition like HIV.
That some poz guys do all these things is amazing. Personally I fall short of that ideal. But perhaps that’s what this campaign is trying to get across. Namely that if negative guys understand the challenges of living with HIV, they would better understand why we don’t always do it well, because it’s hard.
Does understanding each others’ realities lead to reduced stigma? I think so. I hope so.