OK, to be honest, I had been active in the HIV community long before this article came out and most everyone already knew I was HIV+.
This December 2004 article in POZ Magazine, however, was the first time my status appeared “in print”.
HIVers who don’t care about having an undetectable viral load are nuts, right? New research shows they may not be, igniting fresh—and even hostile—debate about undetectability and long-term health.
Meanwhile, over in Phoenix, Chris Daley, 51, a computer consultant diagnosed with HIV in 1989, boasts stable CD4s and viral load between 1,000 and 3,000 on what many would call a sub-optimal regimen of Viracept (nelfinavir) and Zerit (d4T). “I’d rather have the side effects I know than those I don’t,” he says. “We’ve left well enough alone.”
Theriot, Varner and Daley represent a subpopulation of American HIVers who get little play in the official research literature — not to mention big pharma’s glossy ads featuring sunny types touting their undetectability — and until recently could be easily dismissed as detectable daredevils. But four studies published in recent months have challenged the presumed dangers of undetectability. As docs and people with HIV square off over the new research, it’s time to ask whether Theriot, Varner and Daley are courting disaster — or whether they are pillars of sanity in a world gone cuckoo for undetectability.
Though it may horrify antiviral purists, or titillate lab-weary HIVers, for Theriot, that decision remains a simple one. “If I feel perfectly healthy,” he says, “I don’t care about the numbers.”by Tim Murphy, December 2004 issue of Poz Magazine
You can read the full article here.
I caught the HIV virus in 1983 (as near as I can tell) and was officially diagnosed with HIV in 1989.
When I finally got plugged into the system in 1996, I had an AIDS diagnosis. T-Cells were 190, a viral load of 90,000 and had an opportunistic infection.
Within a year or two on meds, my viral load was down to around 1,000 and stayed there for years and years and years. As there were a limited number of meds available and drug resistance was a big thing back then, we just left things as is.
After this article was written…
My viral load finally started “shooting up” – from 1,000 to 6,000 – in 2006. While still not a big deal, my doctor and I decided it was time to finally switch over to a new set of meds.
Started a new medication regime in June, 2006 and after about 6 months became “undetectable” for the first time ever. Still undetectable as of 2019.
All I can say now is that I wished I had switched over sooner.
Then & Now
Since 2004 we’ve learned a lot more about the virus and it’s transmission. And the meds have gotten a lot better.
With today’s meds, undetectable is easy to do with few, if any, side effects for most people.
You really do want to be undetectable or have “viral suppression” (a viral load under 200). It’s worth the hassle. You’ll feel better, be healthier, and your partners will be at zero risk.
Now, if we could just do something about the cost…