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Author Topic: Greetings from sunny Southern California!  (Read 1694 times)

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Offline ladariva

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Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« on: April 08, 2011, 04:24:32 AM »
Hi, everyone! I began writing an introductory reply in another thread, but I realized my text was getting lengthy and didn't want to hijack another person's post. Also, documenting all my treatments and experiences will help me organize my memories and understand my situation better, which is why my post will sound rather didactic.

First, I'm a 26 gay man in Los Angeles (or San Fernando Valley, for you L.A. dwellers with a bridge-and-tunnel mentality).

I tested positive during July 2010 at a public health clinic. During August 2010, I saw an HIV/AIDS specialist and pharmacist at a Kaiser (my HMO) facility, where I was diagnosed with AIDS (T-cell count was 175 on Aug. 2, 2010) and CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection. I immediately started taking Truvada, Sustiva, and Bactrim, switching from Truvada/Sustiva to Atripla soon after because I didn't experience any side effects such as vivid dreams.

During September 2010, I began treatment for my CMV infection, which involved a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line and 2 daily self-administered infusions of ganciclovir for about 3 weeks. Because CMV can cause retinitis, the HIV/AIDS specialist referred me to an ophthalmologist, who didn't see any problem. Meanwhile, I successfully applied for ADAP with the help of a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) at Kaiser. By September 17, 2010, my T-cell count increased to 337, which surprised the HIV/AIDS specialist, who said increases tend to be lower in people on ganciclovir.

After I completed the ganciclovir treatment, my visits to the HIV/AIDS specialist decreased in frequency because my T-cell count consistently increased (361 on 10/15/2010 and 621 on 1/11/2011), and I also went off Bactrim. I did, however, notice some ugly bumps on my neck that I suspected were a case of molluscum contagiosum. The HIV/AIDS specialist confirmed my suspicion during my January 2011 visit and sent me to a dermatologist, who used cryogenic treatment (freezing) to get rid of them.

On April 14, I have an appointment with the HIV/AIDS specialist again and have lots of questions to ask her, but I'm sure many of you have great insight as well. My last lab on 3/31/11 showed my T-cell count at 542, which is a decrease from the January count. On the other hand, my helper/suppressor T-cell ratio has increased from 26% to 36%. I can't view my viral load online and will wait until my appointment to ask whether it's changed, but I do wonder whether I should be more concerned about my T-cell count or my helper/suppressor ratio.

As for my life beyond medical treatments, I started grad school (distance learning) back in September 2010, got official notice that I'll be laid off in May (which I expected because I'm working on a project), and am trying to find a job that offers health benefits or other alternatives because COBRA will cost almost $500. I've told 2 friends about my status, 1 of whom has been HIV+ for a few years now. Eventually, I'd like to tell my family, but I don't have the nerve now because my brother happens to be HIV+ as well.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be spending more time on this forum because I've found it very informative and consoling, and I know I'll have many questions to ask.

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 04:48:48 AM »
Welcome! Sorry you've been ill, glad you've found us. :)


Offline spacebarsux

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  • Survival of the Fittest
Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 07:10:15 AM »
Welcome! Sounds like you've had a rough ride the past few months. Hope things look up now :)
Infected-  2005 or early 2006; Diagnosed- Jan 28th, 2011; Feb '11- CD4 754 @34%, VL- 39K; July '11- CD4 907@26%,  VL-81K; Feb '12- CD4 713 @31%, VL- 41K, Nov '12- CD4- 827@31%

Offline Ann

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Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 09:00:53 AM »
Hi Ladariva, welcome to the forums.

When one is on hiv treatment, usually the more important number is the viral load. The goal of treatment is to have an undetectable viral load, so that's what's important. Especially once your CD4 count is consistently over 200.

The absolute CD4 (aka T-cell) count can vary by as much as 100 points or more during the course of a single day, so don't worry too much about the fluctuations you have experienced. They're not clinically significant. The CD4% tends to be a more stable number and the fact that yours has gone up is good news. 36% is a very good number!

You can read more about what these numbers mean in the Blood Test section of the Lessons.

You've had a fantastic response to the meds so you're going to be just fine. It sounds like you're dealing with things quite well. Don't worry about disclosing to your family just yet - you'll know when the time is right.

Hang in there!

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline skeebo1969

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Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 03:09:52 PM »

   Welcome to the forums.
I despise the song Love is in the Air, you should too.

Offline thunter34

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  • His name is Carl.
Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 03:17:30 PM »
Welcome to the forums, ladariva
AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline MitchMiller

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Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2011, 04:17:57 PM »
Also a San Fernando Valley dweller... one plus about SoCal is all the natural vitamin D... and great walking weather. 

Economy is picking up in the area as nearly all of my previously RIF'd coworkers have found jobs (50% layoff where I work)... so you should be able to find some work soon.

Offline tednlou2

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Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2011, 02:38:07 AM »
Welcome and nice to meet ya.  Sorry to hear about the rough start.  I hope this finds you well, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Offline ladariva

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  • Posts: 3
Re: Greetings from sunny Southern California!
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2011, 01:15:31 AM »
Thanks for the welcome, everyone, and thanks for the useful information, Ann. I'll be sure to ask about my viral load at my appointment tomorrow as well as at future appointments.


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