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I am a best friend, a poet, aand a cook. And I'm living with HIV. Let's Stop HIV Together. Antron

A Wife’s Story

David & I were married in Jan 1993. David was a TN Vols fan who loved NASCAR, fishing, camping, and all types of music, drinking & sex. His alcoholism caused him to make unwise decisions regarding sex before & even after we were married. He drank heavily for most of the first 8 years of our marriage. He became sober in 2001.

In late summer 2004, David started having weak spells and generally felt bad a lot of the time. In 2005, David has his first case of oral thrush. He went to see a local doctor who treated the oral thrush with medication the whole year without ever trying to find the real cause. It would go away and then come right back after completion of the medication. David started losing weight and slipped into a depression. We thought he might have Candida and started buying stuff off the internet to cure it, but it didn’t work.

In early 2006, David became weaker and lost more weight until he was a shell of his normal self. In May 2006, he saw a new doctor who immediately ordered an HIV test among others. He discovered a lot of strange things in David’s blood work and referred him to a hematologist.

It was the hematologist who told us that David had full blown AIDS. It is unknown whether he contracted HIV before we were married or after as he did admit to being unfaithful a few times in the early years of our marriage.

David also had an opportunistic infection called MAC, which affected his bone marrow. To say we were shocked would be an understatement. Neither of us had ever considered being tested for HIV, even though we both had at-risk behavior in our pasts.

He was referred to an infectious disease doctor who discovered that his CD4 count was 7. A normal person’s CD4 would be closer to 1,000. He had no immune system left and was very close to death at that point. He was prescribed 4 different meds: 2 for the HIV, 1 for the MAC, and another to prevent PCP, a type of deadly pneumonia that AIDS patients can get. David told only his immediate family and closest friends about having AIDS because he feared being labeled and rejected by those who didn’t understand the disease.

After almost 5 months of taking the meds, he had gained weight back and his CD4 count had climbed to 300. He was granted SS Disability benefits only 1 month after applying. But David was in pain all the time and became addicted to pain pills. He worried about everything, hated being on disability, hated having AIDS, and prayed many times to just die. On a Sunday afternoon, 15 October 2006, David died of a massive heart attack (stet).

I was tested for HIV in 2006, in 2007, and in 2013 and tested negative. I feel that if David had found out he had HIV earlier, before it became AIDS, he could have gotten on medication, made some lifestyle changes, and possibly still be alive today.

I was using my PT Cruiser to encourage HIV testing until it was totaled in an accident in June of this year. I had a mirrored front plate that read "Stop AIDS Get Tested", AIDS Awareness magnets, "Positive You’re HIV Negative" magnet with local AIDS Action Coalition testing times/location on it, and other items. I was able to salvage some of the items from my wrecked car and put them on my current car and I had a new front plate made. When I had the accident in my PT Cruiser, I had just left a fundraising event for the AIDS Action Coalition where I was volunteering. A week earlier, I helped organize an HIV testing event at the Downtown Rescue Mission where I am also a volunteer. Thirty-three people were tested that day with only one testing HIV+.

I want to share David’s story to remind people that HIV/AIDS is not just a homosexual disease. It’s amazing how many people are still ignorant about what causes HIV and how many people are HIV+ and don’t even know it.

Jill, 52

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