Stay negative in 2018

by Mary Turner

HIV/AIDS Health Columnist

It's a new year, and with it comes exciting news and hope for those who are HIV+. Last September, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged that people with high CD4 levels (an essential component of our immune system) and undetectable HIV viral load have no risk for transmitting the virus to their partner(s).

Current estimations are that about half of those in the United States who are HIV+ fit into this category. But don't let your guard down and get careless in the care of your disease. Your viral load can spike up if you skip your medicine.

So, are you cured so you can stop treatment? No. Does it mean you can stop taking care of yourself and behave with wild abandon? No. It does mean, however, that you can live your life the way a person with any other chronic health condition such as diabetes does.

Take your medications, work with your healthcare provider, get proper nutrition and rest and live.

These things are essential because 2018 is an election year, and you need to maintain your health so you can help vote for more progressive and forward-thinking individuals to guide the state and the country, making it a better place for people living with HIV+.

Last year also ended with another positive note. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug, Juluca, to treat HIV+ patients. Juluca is a two-drug combination pill that is taken once a day and is designed to help combat some of the unpleasant side effects from multiple drug therapies.

What saddens me is that amid all this happy news is the fact that too many of you continue to take unnecessary risks with your health. Condoms can go a long way in helping to keep you safe.

I'm not a guy, so I can't tell you that they are the most comfortable things since mink coats and stretch pants, but too many men use condoms for them to be that awful. And you can incorporate them into foreplay and put them on each other. Oh, all those colors and textures and tastes!. Be as delightfully decadent as you like, but take some precautions and stay safe.

One of our goals for 2018 and beyond should be to attain and maintain undetectable viral loads for those who are HIV+. The other should be to keep HIV- individual's HIV-.

As always, know that I love you. Have a wonderful year.

Copyright 2018 The Gayly – January 16, 2018 @ 9:45 a.m. CST.