What is it like to live with HIV infection? A young man tells WebMD his
Joseph Wolfe, age 28, lives in Atlanta. He gave WebMD permission to use his
name. Why? He feels that by refusing to be anonymous, his message will have a
greater impact on others.
This is Wolfe's story:
"I was diagnosed in May of last year. I gave blood at work, and then the
blood bank called and said there were complications with my donation. Then they
told me to contact the health department, and they made me come in and give
another blood sample.
"It was very traumatic to learn I had HIV. Waking up, it was the first thing
on your mind, and going to sleep it was the last thing on your mind. You forget
for a second, then it hits you in the stomach like a ton of bricks.
"Some days I think I need to plan for my retirement. Other days I think I
don't need to worry, I won't live that long. But it is mostly good now that I
am getting all the facts. My doctor puts into perspective how good the
medicines are and how the medical field has advanced in the last 20 years.
"I was put on drug therapy right away. I did a little research on the medications and their implications. But I pretty much
trusted my doctor's judgment. I am taking Reyataz, Videx, Viread, Emtriva, and
Norvir. The first day I was scheduled to take the drugs, I was with my
boyfriend visiting his parents out of town. You read so much about nausea and
diarrhea, I was scared to death.
But it was great. Nothing happened at all. I don't have any side effects so
"I take my drugs once a day, in the morning when I first get up. Some people
tell me they forget their doses or skip them sometimes. But for me, I know my
life is on the line, and that makes it easier to remember.
"Right now I just take it one day at a time and hope that I can continue on
these meds as long as I can. When time comes to change, I'll deal with that. I
trust my doctor's optimistic outlook, which is very comforting.
"My boyfriend and I, we've been together almost four years. When I first
found out, it was very hard for me to tell him. But I finally did, and the next
day the health department took his blood and found out he was negative. Safe
sex is now the buzzword for us.
"I went through this time where I totally lost interest in sex. You equate
your current situation with the fact that you had sex and that brought it on.
So you totally lose interest and you want that out of your life. Now that I
have come to understand HIV, and know what to do and how to prevent infecting
others, I am getting back into that sort of thing, which my boyfriend