Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 1982; I was 5 years old......

Christmas Day 1982 was a happy day in my life.  I was 5 years old, and my favorite present on this day was my pound puppy, glo worm, and my new bike.  This was also the year I started kindergarten, and I still remember my kindergarten teacher Ms.Cambell and learning my ABC’s via the “Animal People”.
This was also the year I learned to swim, and my Dad taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. I would play my Atari and Coleco Vision all day, I loved those games frogger and donky kong!  I had one of the hottest hot wheels around, and a huge collection of Garbage Pail Kids and match box cars.
I would play and watch TV all day. I couldn’t get enough of Tom and Jerry, Sesame St, and Mr Rogers.  When it was not my turn to watch TV I would watch MASH with my Father and General Hospital with my Mom. 
I looked forward to sleep overs at my cousins on the weekends, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, MJ on MTV, Saturday morning bowling with my Mom and Dad, and nearly daily shopping trips to the mall with my Mother.
As a child growing up in the 80’s I was definitely the epitome of a Toy’s R Us Kid.  I was oblivious to what was happening in the big World around me. Aren’t we all at that age?  My Parent’s did a good job at shielding me from all the sorrow and negativity that was going on in the World. All the while, my parents, hoping my future would only know joy and happiness. 
As I was turning 5 and continued growing up in the 80’s; AIDS began to rear its ugly head and spread with vengeance.  By the beginning of July 1982 a total of 452 cases, from 23 states, had been reported to the CDC, and then the disease began spreading Worldwide. Much of the 80’s was spent figuring out this disease and how best to treat it and In the 90’s came the dreaded AZT treatments.

By January 1st 1995, a cumulative total of a million cases of AIDS had been reported to the World Health Organization Global Programme on AIDS. Eighteen million adults and 1.5 million children were estimated to have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic. Later in the month the CDC announced that in the US, AIDS had become the leading cause of death amongst all Americans aged 25 to 44.

28 years later the disease is still rearing its ugly head with approximately 56,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year. That equivilates to one person in the United States becoming newly infected with HIV every 9 1/2 minutes. Through 2007, more than 576,000 people with AIDS in the US have died since the epidemic began

Globally, since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, infection of HIV has grown to pandemic proportions, resulting in an estimated 65 million infections and 25 million deaths. During 2005 alone, an estimated 2.8 million persons died from AIDS, 4.1 million were newly infected with HIV, and 38.6 million were living with HIV.
With the advent of new drugs scientists have been able to suppress new infections to a point where the disease becomes undetectable.  And Scientists have been able to identify reservoirs in our bodies where latent HIV hides and where current medicine cannot get at.  
Researchers throughout the World but particularly right here in the United States are working tirelessly to finally eradicate this illness.  Never have we been as close to a cure as we are now.  In an e mail communication with Dr David Margolis; within the next few years studies will be rolling out in Chapel hill, NC that will be the next step towards the cure.
Until we get to that cure; those of us infected or inflicted by HIV/AIDS across the World must keep fighting, not just for our livelihood, but for upcoming generations to come.  Keep advocating, keep educating yourself and the public, volunteer, have safe sex, keep on top of your health, and donate if you can to
In closing, I have two wishes this Christmas day. My first wish is that my Mother gets the lung transplant she so desperately needs. Mom you have hung in there for so long, I love you so much and I am glad that you have made it to another Christmas with hopes for many more to come.
My other wish is that we will get closer to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and that these acronyms will soon be written into history.
Today; to those survivors who have lived with the illness longer than I, and particularly to those who have lived with the virus 20 + years; I will stand in line behind you when the cure arrives; and now, I stand with you.

Sometimess I wish, just for a day, that I was 5 again.
Merry Christmas and may you only know happiness, prosperity and good health in the coming year.


Monday, December 20, 2010

A new treatment for Hepatitis C; Telaprevir

Not entirely a new treatment regiment, but rather new drug in the arsenal in the fight against Hepatitis C. You will still need to take your ribavirin, pegylated interferon, AND Telaprevir.

In general adding this new drug makes one's cure rate of HEP C genotype 1/1a much better, and can cut treatment time in half. If you would like to read more info about this new drug I have gathered some online resources for you.

an excerpt from the NY Times Article  “If you can promise them six months with a reasonable chance of a cure, that’s a meaningful advance,” said Dr. Scott L. Friedman, chief of the division of liver diseases at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Say Hi to me

I am your Brother.  I am your Daughter. I am your Friend. I am your Neighbor. I am your Colleague. I am your Classmate. I am your lover.  I am your Cousin.  I am your Son
I am your Teacher.  I am a news anchor. I am a Firefighter. I am Police Officer. I am an Actor.  I am a politician. I am your Priest. I am a Doctor. I saved your life.  I serve in the Military. I change the oil in your car.  I handle your groceries when you check out in my line. I am the homeless guy you pass on the street.

We stood in line together.  Our children go to school together.  I was in the car beside you today.  That was me sitting next to you.  I go to school with you.  My hand brushed against yours on the subway.  We drink from the same water fountain, swim in the same pool, and congregate in the same areas.  

Why don't you say hi to me?
I am gay and you may not be, I have HIV and you may not, I have Hepatitis C and you may not have that either. I am shy and you may not be.  You may not have or be a lot of the things I am or have, but I am still your Neighbor, still your Brother, Colleague, Classmate, and your Son.  And as long as I am here; I am somebody. 

Say Hi to me J
-          Kevin M

Dad, I’m Gay, HIV and Hepatitis C Positive.

Oh, and Dad, by the way, I have an addition to Crystal Meth and I am in rehab for it (May 2010).  That is exactly how I came out to my Dad over the telephone.  
It was not until my Father’s girlfriend told me of that night when she was there when my Dad received my phone call that I thought “how dumb it was of me” to disclose all that over the phone.
When my Dad hung up the phone, he broke down.  And, for the first time in his life; he cried, thinking that I was going to die.
My family picked up on the “gay thing” early on, but HIV, Hepatitis C and Crystal Methamphetamine.  Kevin?  I was a good kid that grew up as a shy and quiet child, and who traveled the World from a young age.  I was a kid who made his Parents very proud.
If your parents are of my parent’s age’s (baby boomers), then they grew up with a very different image surrounding HIV,  they may be more understanding of the substance abuse issue, but the acronym GRID and AIDS still sticks with this generation today.  
Until last year, even after all of these years of being gay, and being familiar with HIV – I never heard this term.  GRID (Gay Related Immune Disorder) was the first term used back in 1982 to define what we now call today HIV/AIDS.  If you think about it, those of us with parents as baby boomers; they were our age when AIDS reared its ugly head.
What a long way we have come since then, but the images, the science, the stigma associated with AIDS back then still sticks with many baby boomers today.
It was a different experience when I told my Brother and his wife (10 years older than I am).  They were much more accepting, and understanding.
In hindsight I wish I had that day to do over again with my Father. I would speak to him in person, so that he can see me and see that I do not look sick,  and that I am not dying. I would educate him as to my Illnesses, give him reading material, and assure him that I will go on living a healthy and fulfilling life. And that HIV is not the GRID/AIDS he remembered it being.
My generation has become so digitalized and depersonalized as we text our breakups, propose via instant messenger, and divulge such personal and sensitive health information over the phone, rather than in person.  The traditional days of yesteryear sitting around a dinner table and conversing have long been gone.  I am waiting for APPLE to design the I DINNER TABLE.   
Point in this blog entry is; lesson learned.  And when I tell my Mom; this time I will do it the proper way.  I will be telling her after the Holidays and will keep you all posted on how that goes.

Intresting Study from Australia; Post Hep C Recovery

I have been to Australia 3 times - I consider it my second home!
This is an interesting study out of Australia regarding Post Hepatitis C recovery
I am in this category "Feeling renewed from clearing hepatitis C infection". However, I would probably suggest not everyone read this study. It has more negativity than positivity, but nonetheless an interesting study.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My First Christmas Tree; a Metaphor of Life?

Never in my life have I had my own tree, as I have been a roommate for so long; and away from my family and those instilled familial holiday traditions.  When I come in my front door and see MY tree, or while sitting on my couch looking at it, or peering at it from my desk; my feelings of unsteadiness in my life right now – slip away; and for a moment I have no worries.  I think about nothing else in that moment, but that tree.   
When I first picked up my tree – it was hiding amongst the other trees.  When I pulled it out to look at it the branches weren’t quite right, one side was a bit less full than the other, and it had some gaps.   It had potential though, so I took it home.  Over that afternoon the tree began to thaw, the branches began to fall into place and the gaps starting filling in. I watered it for the first time, and again this morning.  
That tree hiding amongst the others was in obvious distress, it was picked over, and nobody was paying attention to it.  This morning the branches are perky, it’s standing erect, and I can see the life pouring out of that tree.  Could something as simple as a tree, be a metaphor for your life right now?
Are you someone out there who is hiding away from the World? Are you a bit lonely, scared, and unsure of your future?  Don’t be, because you have so much hidden potential.  It’s not too late to go out and get your own tree.  Or maybe this year, you just didn’t feel like lighting your Menorah.  I say take out that Menorah and light it, go get that tree, and put on your favorite holiday music. DO NOT squander another day living under a cloud of doom.
I realize though, that for many of us a tree is beyond our budget this year – it was beyond mine.  But I wasn’t going to let this Christmas slip away without one, as I had been too unhappy for so long.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's World AIDS day and nearly 9 months since my diagnosis....

My Story  - the shorter version. The longer video version can be found at the end....

On March 3rd, 2010 I learned that I was HIV + and the next month with follow up labs that I had also contracted Hepatitis C. 
On the day I walked out of my physician’s office in NYC learning of my HIV diagnosis; I was frightened. I didn’t know where to turn; I had nobody on a peer to peer level to talk to about my new diagnosis, and I was upset with myself and at the World around me.  It was a tumultuous time in my life, because at the same time of learning of my diagnosis I was also dealing with a substance abuse issue.
I was at a stalemate in my life, and the dual diagnosis crippled me more emotionally than physically. So, on March 3rd, 2010 I began to set in motion the steps I needed to take to get my life back on track. I immediately took a leave of absence from my job of  7 years with American Express to address my substance abuse issue, to address my HIV and Hepatitis status, and to really examine myself, my life, my job, and those around me. 
I self-admitted for 32 days (inpatient) to the Pride Institute in Minnesota. In this caring environment I was able to come to grips with my co-infection, learn about my substance abuse issue and further set in motion the needed steps to get my life in order.
On March 3rd, 2010 and throughout my stay at the Pride Institute I began what would be nearly a year long journey “designing the rest of my life as best as I can” and decided that “I was not going to squander my life living under a cloud of impending doom” (quotes from the inspirational piece called “The Awakening” – by Sonny Carroll). This inspirational piece that I first read at the Pride Institute profoundly spoke to me, and inspired me to set in motion the rest of my life.
Since moving to NYC I kept questioning if it was the right move and whether my career would take me in the direction I wanted to go.  In the end, I decided NYC was not the right move, and my career was not taking me in the direction I wanted to go in, nor what I was doing the right fit for me.  In September 2010, After 7 years working for American Express, I resigned my position.
My higher power had a greater mission in store for me.  That mission was to move closer to my Family, and especially my ill Mother awaiting a lung transplant, to go to Graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Public Health, and to help those newly diagnosed with HIV or Hepatitis C, and dealing with a substance abuse issue; who are frightened, not knowing where to turn, advocate on their behalf, and create a greater awareness and understanding of HIV and Hepatitis C. 
My experience above and the strength I found within me to overcome my addiction, and deal with my dual diagnosis inspired me to create my own foundation....

The details on this Non Profit Foundation will be out soon.........

The longer video version of my story can be found on you tube:

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