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Author Topic: What Happens to Your Career?  (Read 5624 times)

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Offline Warren

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  • Posts: 8
What Happens to Your Career?
« on: August 05, 2006, 09:11:06 PM »
I was curious if some people would be willing to comment on how being positive has affected their career as compared to before the diagnosis. Specifically, I am curious as to experiences people have had such as are they still working at the same job (or an equivalent job in terms of hours and responsibility) say 3 years later. My brother recently tested positive and he is a very career oriented (and decently succesful in the work world) person. I am just concerned that the illness will cause a tremendous amount of additional depression if it will cause him to no longer be able to work. Basically, I am curious as to whether people find that they were able to continue working as usual, or is the stress of the illness too much to be able to keep up a full career even if your general health and HIV lab numbers stay good..... I hope I am able to be a source of support for my bro throughout this as he has always been the pillar of strength for me and he has been there for me over the years when I have needed support.

Offline Eldon

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2006, 09:24:59 PM »
Hello Warren, it is Eldon. Welcome to the forums where you will find a lot of love, encouragement and support that you can add to your current support system.

When I found out in 1990, I continued to work as usual up until August 2005 where I needed to take a break from the workforce.

Your brother will do fine as long as he takes his medicine as prescribed by his doctor, eat well, get plenty of rest, and keep the stress levels down in his life.

Offline cflas

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2006, 09:38:55 PM »
Dear Warren: I found out I was positive in July, 1994 when, at the time, I was working as a social worker/case manager for one hospital in the city in which I live. In November of that year, I moved to a Level II medical center where I have worked, also as a case manager, since.  When I was being interviewed for the position, I had to meet with the Employee Health r\Representative and had to fill out a questionnaire.  The question came up about the medications I was on and I told her. She asked if I had been exposed and I replied that I had.  It's never been a problem for me and I decided to divulge my status because #1: it's really part of who I am and could have affected my work history and #2: I didn't want to lie on the application and that come back to bite me in the ass.

Anyway, fortunately, I haven't had to miss any work because of my HIV status although I did have to have a cardiac cath i 1999 and my spleen removed in 2005 (which may have been related to the meds). 

It's all in how you manage the stress and how important your life outside of work is to your overall health.  chris

Offline J.R.E.

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  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2006, 10:16:04 PM »
Hello Warren,

 I was diagnosed positive in 1985, and fortunately was able to continue doing the same work that I started in in 1973. I continued in that line of work until, 1997. At that time, I was still very much healthy, but I was getting burned out in that job. ( which by the way, was a quite a physical job)

In 1997, I started working in apartment renovation, and maintenance. Once again, this was quite the physical job, but I enjoyed it. I became quite ill in 2003. I still managed to hang onto that job, for one more year, but in October of 2004, neuropathy was kicking in, and I was unable to be on my feet, and take on a lot of those job responsibilities any longer. Another position opened up at work ( perfect timing) and I grabbed it in a heartbeat. Its not exactly what I would like to do,( took a major cut in pay) but its a job, it pays the bills, the benefits are great, and it gives me the INSURANCE I need , to help pay for these costly medications, and other medical things that arise. And I certainly hope, that I can hang onto it for a while  !!

Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 20mg of Atorvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amlodipine Besolate 5mg-- Updated 9/24/2017

Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 9/18/2017,  Viral load remains <40
CD 4 @358 /  CD4 % @ 13

 65 years young.

Offline AlanBama

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  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2006, 10:44:17 PM »
Hi Warren and welcome.

AIDS sidelined my career, but that does not necessarily mean bad news for anyone recently diagnosed as positive.   My diagnosis was over 19 years ago, and things were much different then.   With the drugs we have today, there is a good possibility that many may not ever experience an O.I. or major illness related to AIDS, so no reason for them to alter their career plans.

Believe me, if you have a career and/or a good job, hang onto it.   Being on disability is definitely not anything to strive for. It is not something to treat lightly.  I would give anything to have back the years that AIDS robbed from my life (and career) but I am trying to make the best of a bad situation. 

I don't for one second intend to sound ungrateful for my life and the current state of my health, because I am MOST thankful for the drugs that saved me.  But I told a friend yesterday, who has been dealing with this for about as long as I have, that I honestly am more tired of being poor than I am of being sick.  To some of you, that may make no sense at all, but I know some will know exactly what I'm talking about.

"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Eldon

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2006, 10:51:30 PM »
Hello Alan, it is Eldon. I KNOW what you are talking about.

Offline kcmetroman

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  • Posts: 567
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2006, 10:54:59 PM »
Welcome Warren:

Well, I had a very successfull career that began to slide over the last 5 years.  I blamed it on an ugly divorce and the distractions.  After surviving heart failure in 2003, When I was FINALLY diagnosed last year I was overcome by dementia.  My CD4's were 21 and VL over a million.  I nearly died.  I am on disability now, but look forward to going back to work.  The lesions are healing and I am thinking clearer than I have in years.

I guess the sooner you catch this little bugger, the better you are off as far as maintaining your normal lifestyle.

Offline Warren

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2006, 11:17:29 PM »
Thanks for all of the responses!


Offline Oceanbeach

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2006, 11:29:51 PM »
Hi Warren,

I can't tell you how much I hate it when people ask this question.  But it is a valid question and is sincere, I feel like responding.  

Each of us are different as are our employers.  I have met people who could not work anymore as in a Psyche Nurse who may be bitten by a patient/client and pass the virus on to the patient/client.  I remember a woman who just graduated from Respiratory Tech training and was not allowed to work in her chosen field.  I have also know people whose employers provided a cot so that person could get some rest when needed.

I excelled in my field and was promoted to Vice President, produced a radio talk show, became chief designer of our product line and made partner within 6 months after my HIV + diagnosis.  The Governor of California was a guest on my show as were the movers and shakers of the Southern California workers' comp broker and agents.  I had HIV and the world by the short curlies at the same time.

Two years later, there was a hospitalization and an AIDS diagnosis.  My first visitors were the firms attorneys.  The nation's front runner in workers' comp reform could not take a chance of an employee going out on a claim.  I was bought out or fired same thing.

Now, living with HIV, we have to continuously re-invent ourselves.  As I was in an isolation ward, I called for my lap top and began the best work of my life.  I would get out of bed, put on my mask, I kind of looked like Donald Duck with that orange mask on but I was visiting the Risk Manager of the hospital and started designing an industry specific injury prevention program for the medical center industry.

Over the past 10 years, I have completed a hospitality safety program, small government entity program, large government safety program, stress programs, workplace violence, self-esteem, wine/agriculture safety programs.  Basically every industry type there is, I have designed a program for.  I was told I was brilliant by the largest employer in California, told welcome to the company by the 5th largest commercial line brokerage firm in the US and no company will hire me or purchase my product lines.

Recently, I started the design of a sales web site to offer off-the-shelf safety programs to small companies with fewer than 100 employees.  I hope to finish that site by the beginning of next year.  Industrial Safety has seasons.  Ninety percent of all companies re-rate their wc insurance in January or July and many go into cost shock just prior to their normal anniversary date.

There is no cut and dry on what happens to a persons career.  It is hard enough just finding out we are HIV+ and then to try and keep our jobs too?  It really depends on the ability of the individual to continue working and the company culture.  Have the best day


Offline elena

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  • Posts: 7
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2006, 08:10:32 PM »
Hi Warren,
I found out that I'm HIV positive in 1996...and continued my studies...
Few years I work in NGO GOD (on english-Generation response to drugs)-we work with actual and ex drug addicts and PLWHA (people who live with hiv/aids)...
Also I work on radio in contact program where we(my friend who is also hiv positive and me) talk about drug and hiv/aids problems and talk with listeners who call us about those problems-drugs and hiv/aids-majority of them have those problems...
On this way I made connection with my "illness" and job.... ;)
« Last Edit: August 06, 2006, 08:16:32 PM by elena »
~ Homo sum:humani nihil a me alienum puto ~

Offline Cliff

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2006, 08:32:38 PM »
This evening I made it back home from the Edinburgh festival.  My friend, who is HIV positive, is performing in the festival.  I am extremely proud of him.  A year ago he was suffering from depression as well as anxiety attacks.  Now he's performing before packed audiences, (with fantastic reviews), and is constantly working.  Depression didn't stop him and neither did HIV.

After his performance on Saturday, we went out drinking and made it back to the hotel around 3 AM.  We then ordered room service, (the food was horrible), so that he could take his Kaletra and Viramune with food.  We stayed up the rest of night talking about everything under the sun, except for HIV.

The moral of the story is that depression and HIV aren't always career ending illnesses.  I don't know how your brother will fare, but now more than ever, people living with HIV are able to remain working and have successful careers. 

I wish him well.


Offline elena

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  • Posts: 7
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2006, 09:20:27 PM »
... now more than ever, people living with HIV are able to remain working and have successful careers. 
Agree 1000% with Cliff !

ps.Warren,everything is in our brains-HIV isn't anymore "the penalty of death"...Living in fear and depression kill people,not virus-we could live and work normal,like other,so called "normal" people!
I really hope that everything will be ok with your brother!Be with him in this first shocking period,give him all support you can...Soon he'll see that he'd be able to live like before...
I wish him(and you)all the best,too...
~ Homo sum:humani nihil a me alienum puto ~

Offline newt

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  • the one and original newt
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2006, 09:25:01 PM »
I went straight back to work after my appointment to get my HIV-positive diagnosis.  I am still there.  I went down to 4 days a week in January, but more because I wanna sit of the beach more than because of HIV. BUt, I haven't been sitting on the beach (much) mainly been working on other things, and writing, probably do more hours overall on worky things. Starting meds was a turnaround energywise.  I'd like to say being HIV-positive has led me to taking better care of myself, but it hasn't...quite...yet...turning 40 did though, heart-wise etc, and I guess there is still room for improvements here and I intend to make them.

- matt

Now playing: Jeff Buckley, Lilac Wine
"The object is to be a well patient, not a good patient"

Offline joemutt

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  • Posts: 1,068
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2006, 11:09:44 PM »
Hi Warren
A lot of factors play whether you continue to work or not : reaction to meds, mental state, physical state, so there cannot be a blanket statement that says : everyone on meds or with hiv can (continue) to work full time
but here's my experience:
I decide most of the time when I work but probably work a little over full time;
I have always worked (the odd flue keeping me in bed once in a while)
and 5 years into my diagnosis and on meds for the same time,
I founded my own company in a country not my own. Sometimes I have like a 'small power failure' and then I rest.I am not very career-oriented but I like to work.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2006, 11:14:26 PM by joemutt »

Offline david25luvit

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  • Member since March 2005
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2006, 02:48:44 AM »
My days in food & beverage are over with...but not just because of HIV.  SJS sped the process up quite a bit.
These days I'd be too weak to "supervise" a bunch of waiters and bartenders who require a lot of discipline to
maintain great service.  ::) But to pat myself on the back...I was a fabulous Maitre'd... :P

These days I'm a great guest....and I do miss working sometimes.  Especially the people I worked with...some of whom are still good friends :o
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline jack

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  • fomerly the loser known as Jake
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2006, 09:32:43 AM »
I discovered I was positive in 1989, two weeks after I had started a new business,my money was dwindling and I had no med insurance, within two years my company was the number one in my field and I was making more money than I thought possible. My wife returned to work and we got health insurance.
Golf had always been very important to my life,but I had never won any type of competition prior to finding out I was pos. I won 6 club championships in a span of 8 years,even though I was often weak and nauseated from the drugs.
I quit drinking and smoking.
My marriage and relationship with my wife became wonderful.
Then I got lipodystrophy. I became a recluse and my business went down the drain. I had to quit playing golf cause  of comments on my appearance(which were true) and just being unable to compete because of fat.
I am still very fortunate, I have two kids in their senior year at college, my wife is a very successful exec.,and my dog still loves me but I wont truly be happy again without a return to success. Every day is a new day, and even though I am miserable and depressed today, I know my day is coming. I am gonna fucking win.

Offline GSOgymrat

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  • HIV+ since 1993. Relentlessly gay.
Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2006, 09:51:33 AM »
I've been HIV+ for 13 years and have worked as a mental health counselor for a hospital for 12 years. I've not had a problem.

Offline dad1216

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2006, 10:27:32 AM »
After returning to work from a LOA in June 05, I faced one of the worst situations.  My co-worker was removed from my office the day I returned because I have AIDS and she refused to work in the same office.  Over the next 5 months my career went to hell.  I had been outed, my co-worker was terminated for various other reasons and not the real one of discrimination, I was told it was my fault that the workload fell on me, they solicited to find an "aids friendly" person to move in my office with me, I was denied a promotion because they feared another situation would arise, I was told by my boss to give him my counts, and that it just the tip of the iceberg.  I walked out after 8 years, hired several attorney's, spent thousands, to end  up with nothing.  I am currently on SSDI and will remain "retired"
23 years HIV+ (Oct 88)
11 years AIDS (March 00)

CD4=83  VL=47,000  (May 2011)
CD4=63  VL=78,470  (Oct 2010)

Offline allopathicholistic

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2006, 03:05:39 PM »
Hi dad1216,
Wish I could blink and make everything right.   :'(  That old boss had some gall to demand your counts. That's none of his biz!  >:(  >:(

Love and well wishes,

Offline MitchMiller

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Re: What Happens to Your Career?
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2006, 10:36:31 PM »
I've continued to work as always, but I'm definitely not as mentally sharp as I used to be.  I have to make up for it by working more hours to keep up.  The workload is not going to stop to accomodate me.  I worked a few minutes shy of 12 hours today and will be working this weekend to make up for a day off I took for a dr. appt.... yes it sucks, but it's $$$ and that's important in my mind for people w/HIV to have (especially given the high cost of drugs, impossibility of getting insurance, having to be destitute to get financial aid, etc.).  I would much rather work my butt off than not have a job.


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