Editor's Note

It’s Time to Change The Way We Think About HIV

October 28, 2021

For as long as I have been diagnosed, the vaccine and cure for HIV have been “right around the corner.” Finding a cure in short order is a lofty goal that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but sadly, it doesn’t help those currently living with HIV. So what should we do to end the shame, stigma, and silence that accompanies living with HIV today? I believe the answer is to rebrand HIV as a lifestyle disease!

I say this because lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s have been normalized in today’s mainstream media. Shelby from Steel Magnolias had Type 1 diabetes. Prof. Sherman Klump from The Nutty Professor suffers from obesity and creates a miracle chemical to become thin. In The Notebook, Allie suffers from memory loss due to Alzheimer’s.

Yet when you think about HIV-themed movies or TV series you are taken back in time to a world that no longer exists. Modern antiretroviral drugs have made HIV manageable and now there is even a once-a-month injection available. The majority of those who get sick from HIV are people who don’t want to take the medicine or don’t have access to it.

Now I am talking in generalities here, as everyone is different. Some people experience lipodystrophy and others hepatotoxicity but as an employee of an HIV clinic, these side effects are rare among people diagnosed within the last 15 years. This is why I will double down and say that we need to normalize HIV as a lifestyle disease!

I know that this will not be an easy task or even a popular one, but just like those who came before us in the fight to end HIV, we must disrupt the status quo to usher in a new way of thinking. A world where the general population understands what a viral load or CD4 count represents. This is a world that we can build together, but only if we work together.

So until that day comes, I look forward to sharing blog posts on recipes designed to aid the immune system, meditation techniques for personal growth, and even gadgets to help improve your quality of life. I will also share personal stories on my podcast, photos on my Instagram, and other media to help normalize HIV and make it just one step closer to being just another lifestyle disease.

Sincerely,

3 Comments

  • Reply
    James Deets
    November 1, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Well done!

  • Reply
    Matt Edmondson
    November 2, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing Alex!

  • Reply
    Paul
    November 6, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    Awesome!

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