Army of Two
Mirvan Ereon on his two t-cells, his outlook on life and his message for other people living with HIV.
I have one of the lowest CD4 counts in my HIV/AIDS treatment hub here in the Philippines. I got my first ever count last February 2012 and my next count is in August 2012. Based on my results, my CD4 is only 2. Yes, TWO. Not 200, not 20. 1 + 1 = 2.
A person without HIV or any issues with his immune system has a CD4 of 500 and above. 350 below, you would have to start with antiretrovirals to help your failing immune system. A CD4 count of 200 below is technically AIDS already. So how about me? What am I with a CD4 of just TWO?
I like to think of myself as a zombie. Technically, my immune system is very low, so that I might die from an infection if I am not careful with taking care of myself. But to be honest, I am really fine and I look good. I do not have any infections, even the most common ones like oral thrush. I can walk fine. I feel great and fancy myself as a pretty cute young and agile man.
Some of the HIV-positive people I talked to, doctors and counselors say that the CD4 count is just a number. Whatever your count is, you should still be living a healthy lifestyle and make sure that you take care of yourself well. CD4 counts are just a way to measure how much our immune system is improving with the help of our antiretrovirals, proper diet and healthy lifestyle.
I am on my second month of ARV treatment. I am taking Efavirenz, Tenofovir and Lamivudine each day and I am glad that I have no side effects whatsoever. They are just like multivitamins for me. Aside from that, I really make sure I eat well. I eat a lot. I am always eating and just making myself stuffed like a summer pig.
I currently work at home so I have all the freedom to be rest anytime I want. I busy myself with surfing the web, writing, watching movies, reading and other stuff. Just like what I used to do before I got diagnosed as HIV-positive. Nothing really changed except that I can say that I am happier with life and more relaxed, thus more attractive.
I may sound vain but last year when I was ridden with infections, I really looked bad. I looked so thin, ugly and deplorable that I resembled Gollum from Lord of the Rings. I tried to kill myself because I did not want to die ugly. I got so depressed with how I looked. But then, I am thankful that I did not push through with suicide. I thought I lost hope before but then my new life started becoming in full bloom. Having a positive attitude is really one of my greatest weapons in this strange and unpredictable battle against HIV. You have all the right to feel beautiful or handsome in every way! You have all the right to feel sexy and delicious! You have all the right to feel that you are a great and unique person!
HIV should never ever bring you down! Only you can bring yourself down! Don’t pity yourself and feel dejected because that would only make you feel bad. Never forget that you are still a wonderful human being as an HIV-positive person. No matter who you are or what you do, you are a gorgeous, special and fantastic individual and being HIV positive is just a part of you, and not what defines you.
HIV is only a disease of the body. You should not let it be the disease of your soul too!