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new here and some questions

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texaninnyc87:
hello everyone.
here's some background info on me. so im a 25 year old gay male living in new york and i recently found out that i am HIV positive. basically my biggest fear in life up until this point. i had gone a long time without getting tested (5 years) and when i finally went in a few months ago they told me I was positive. They ordered a blood test but i never went back for my follow up appointment because I was too freaked out and the timing was awful so I never found out what my counts were or anything. That was on September 11 (not a good day for anyone I guess). I kept putting off dealing with it until a got a flu thing a few weeks ago and it really freaked me out. I've always had a very strong immune system and usually only get sick once every few years. This time, being sick and knowing I was positive I got really scared and decided that I just needed to take charge of this situation and get my life back and stop being afraid to face something that will only get worse the longer i wait.

in the past two months i've been doing a lot of research and making some changes in my life. i quit smoking cigarettes, drastically cut back on drinking, started working out 3-5 times a week and began taking multivitamins. It's really been a wake up call about how I've been living my life and how I need to grow up and take charge of things, which i suppose is kind of a blessing. before I found out I was positive i was quite a heavy drinker and smoker.

tomorrow im going to the GMHC to get some blood work done and talk to a counselor about my options and everything. it's pretty scary for me but i know i need to face it. the thing i'm worried about is probably what every newly diagnosed person worries about. my counts. what if they are very low? having HIV is bad enough but if it is already progressed to AIDs levels I'm going to be devastated. I know it's impossible to tell now but I was wondering if anyone can help me speculate? Judging on how strong my immune system has always been I would guess my t cell counts were fairly high to begin with. The longest I could have been positive is 5 years. Which i know normally isnt long enough for the t cells to drop that much. I've read that excessive alcohol use and smoking can speed things up, so im worried about that. I dont really have any symptoms of anything except my bad skin (acne and dry spots) which i've always had.  Ok this is getting quite long, but I wanted to introduce myself and my situation thoroughly.

mecch:
tomorrow im going to the GMHC to get some blood work done and talk to a counselor about my options and everything. it's pretty scary for me but i know i need to face it. the thing i'm worried about is probably what every newly diagnosed person worries about. my counts. what if they are very low?

Then you are going to listen to your doctor and do what he/she says Ė get yourself ready for treatment when the time comes.

having HIV is bad enough but if it is already progressed to AIDs levels I'm going to be devastated. I know it's impossible to tell now but I was wondering if anyone can help me speculate?

No its pointless.  All your speculation is natural and human but its useless at best and often counterproductive. Stress and fear that adds nothing to your life.  The  brass tacks basic fundamental to living well with HIV is going to regular checkups and taking the medical treatments if and when required.
   
Judging on how strong my immune system has always been I would guess my t cell counts were fairly high to begin with. The longest I could have been positive is 5 years. Which i know normally isnt long enough for the t cells to drop that much. I've read that excessive alcohol use and smoking can speed things up, so im worried about that. I dont really have any symptoms of anything except my bad skin (acne and dry spots) which i've always had.

You are overly obsessed with a connection between drinking and smoking and fighting HIV.  And complete guesses about your supposed "strong immunity"

Your body is going to deal with HIV based on its genetic immunity and NOT your spirit, your mindset, your drinking, or your smoking or whether you got strep throats and the flu in the past.   

Smoking is bad for you for a million reasons for instance it causes heart disease and lung disease. You are smart you know that already.  Its got little to do with how your body is or isnít dealing with being HIV+.

Drinking --- well --- just like smoking.  Make your decisions about that based on ALL known dangers of drinking.  No need to drag HIV into your drinking problem, or vice versa. 

Congratulations on taking charge and going directly at HIV.  Please keep that direct approach in mind going forward. 

You do NOT need radical lifestyle changes as a condition of fighting HIV.  You may need to quit drinking to live and work well. You quit smoking, you know the benefits. 

Many people avoiding dealing with HIV make this mistake. Thinking some radical lifestyle shift is necessary to deal with HIV.  Sorry no.  Yes its important and necessary but no.  No if it is adding to the stress and making them avoid treating HIV head-on rationally and with cool science.

HIV is a virus that is well known and well treated by medical science and we shouldn't think that ANYTHING even comes close to HAART as being important in controlling an HIV infection.

Well anyway, at leasts that my view on things. Ask doctors and science to deal with the HIV.  Know what your fun sins (smoking drinking drugging whatever ones people have) come with as risks, and don't confound it all together.

tednlou2:
Welcome to the forums.  I'm glad to hear you're taking charge of your health.  Hearing you have HIV is a huge blow.  Most young people don't think about their mortality, and a disease like HIV slams your mortality into your face.  It is hard to deal with for so many of us.  I've been poz for what I'm pretty sure is 11 years, but have only known my status for 4.  It is impossible to gauge what your counts will be.  Some progress quickly and many others don't.  I've had doctors say there is just no way I could have been infected for 11 years with my counts and still not on meds.  There are some who have been poz for over 20 years and still not on meds. 

It is good you quit smoking.  While it is true smoking has little to do with disease progression as far as lab counts go, smoking does increase your risk of respiratory illnesses and bacterial pneumonia.  We are already at increased risk for pneumonia, but smoking increases that risk.  Once you get a few labs under your belt, you'll begin to know where you stand and whether meds are necessary now, or whether you have time to begin to prepare for that at some point. 

Be sure to be checked for other things like syphillis and hepatitis.  If you're not already vaccinated, your doc should be vaccinating you for Hep A and B.  And, don't forget the flu and pneumonia vaccinations.  It is a lot to digess.  Just putting it out there, because besides exercise and vitamins, these are very important to good health.

All the best, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

Ted     

Jmarksto:
Tex;  Sorry you need to be here, but welcome. 

I get being freaked out - I am six months into this and I was pretty freaked out the first few months (ok, maybe a little longer than that).  In retrospect, all my worry and anxiety was really counterproductive.  One thing that helped me was seeing a counselor that specializes in HIV.  Others have mentioned that attending support groups has really helped.

I know it sounds trite - but it does get easier with time, as you educate yourself and start to manage your health (like knowing your numbers, educating yourself on meds, getting the vaccinations as Ted suggested, etc.).

The good news is that you are in a city with great medical care and you are taking action to manage your health.

Again, welcome and I wish you well,
JM

emeraldize:
Hey Texxy,

Welcome - I love your attitude -- you let this shocker motivate you to do some things that are good for you for the long haul and the short haul, namely your wallet -- smoking's expensive these days!!

As to your concern about the pending numbers, you'll be getting numbers on a quarterly basis, so first time out, schedule two minutes maximum in your head for total devastation and then move on. No matter what they are, you'll deal.

Keep us posted, will ya?
Em

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