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Walker’s Story


It is easy for me to tell this story from first person perspective because it is first person, it is my story.

I was born December 30th in a compromised situation requiring the hospital to administer a blood transfusion to save my life. I received this transfusion from a bag of plasma that was split 4 ways.

When I was 4, my Doctor received a call from the doctor of one of the other recipients who had died they had determined due to complications with AIDS her doctor discovered the likely source and followed up with other recipients of plasma to inform them of the situation and suggest testing. It was at that time I was first tested and confirmed infected with HIV. At the time the specialists involved wanted to immediately rush me on to medication treatments and suggested I would not survive to 9 years old (I passed that grim expectation 21 years ago). Upon finding out my situation, my father started to research facts and treatment information available at the time, eventually making a connection with a renowned pediatrics infectious disease specialist who happened to be employed at the local University of Utah Hospital. Upon reading about and watching the trends of early drug treatment failures, my father resisted allowing me to go on medications until we saw a drop in cd4 started to drop making starting treatment a necessary step to take. In holding back in starting treatment, rather than going solo AZT I began drug therapy with the new suggested triple combination therapy. I remember the drugs available at the time were difficult to manage and unpleasant to deal with requiring strict timing and temperature control etc. I maintained the administration of my drug treatments in religious type seriousness. I have been on therapy long enough to remember Crixivan AZT/3CT combinations. I have never had a drug fail on me. I have switched to new drugs usually in the situation of unsuitable or dangerous side effects. Though it sounds unpleasant to deal with it has kept me on the newer and better treatments. Recently I had to cease Kaletra due to continual kidney stones. Because of instances such as that I am now on protease inhibitors and the one new integrase inhibitor (my current combo is Lamivud/Zidovud/Isentress) because of strict attentiveness to taking care of myself. I am now 30 and the only remaining survivor of the original plasma bag, which I will admit makes me feel bad for the other 3 and the people involved with it. For 8 years I was married and have a daughter who is thankfully not infected but will definitely, because of me, be in a position to write something like this in the "affected" category. I am not looking forward to the day she finds out. I keep thinking if I can live long enough maybe I won't have to tell her other than from the position of "used to".

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