Thursday, October 20, 2011
The hepatitis C diagnosis was completely unexpected, and was harder to digest than being told I had HIV.
Though I had dabbled in recreational drugs, I never was an IV drug user. As I said in previous blog entries the only thing I knew about hepatitis C was that Pamela Anderson had it and that it was a disease amongst IV drug users. I was completely floored over the diagnosis. My Doctor at Callen Lorde in NYC refereed me to Mt Sinai Hospital as a study was being conducted regarding sexual transmission of Hepatitis C.
I learned of this diagnosis the day before entering rehab at the Pride Institute in Minnesota, and was told about the treatment of interferon and ribavirin I would have to begin after my thirty day stay at Pride. I remember crying on the plane ride from NYC to Minnesota, and I broke down several times in rehab over the Hepatitis C diagnosis. I was now considered ‘co-infected’ and I was scared. I was told I’d have to give myself shots of a low dose of chemotherapy (interferon) and that the medicine was going to make me VERY sick.
I had an AMAZING experience at the Pride Institute; while there for thirty days it gave me time to digest my new diagnoses, reflect on my addiction issues, and prepare myself mentally to start my course of Hepatitis C treatment. I remember flying back from Minnesota to NYC, but this time I didn’t cry; I was going to fight this battle head on and do WHATEVER I needed to do to rid Hep C from my system.
The day after I landed I met with my Doctor at Mt Sinai and began treatment. Every two weeks for six months I took a train from Albany to NYC to see my doctor for follow up labs. Since I was in a study nearly twenty tubes of blood was taken every two weeks. The initial expectation of eleven months of treatment was reduced to six months as I had a very good response to the medicine and by week four I had a nearly undetectable hep c viral load.
I began giving myself the shots the second week, and like clockwork once a week I would inject the interferon. The worst part of the treatment was the ribavirin pills, I think it was just the fact I had to take 6 ‘more’ pills every day. The biggest side effects I had from treatment were fatigue and a heightened level of anxiety, and about 20 pounds of weight loss. I never had a fever, or body aches, never even had a headache. In fact I was prescribed 500mg of Naproxen to combat the possible flu like symptoms, but I never used a single pill. Treatment was NOT as bad as people talked about, but it certainly was not a walk in the park. So, 6 months post treatment I was still undetectable, cured!
A cure of hepatitis c is measured by an undetectable viral load 6 months AFTER stopping treatment. At three months post treatment I was still undetectable, AND at six months post treatment. I had beaten the odds and was cured!
I remember my last shot; it was nearly a year ago, a month before Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). As my appetite began to return I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. It was a nice thanksgiving with my family, and I gorged! I quickly gained back the 20 pounds, plus some.
Another achievement will be this march; it will be two years since I went to rehab, and I can say I have rid the addiction of crystal meth! It’s been one heck of a ride these past 20 months, but with a lot of persistence and patience YOU WILL persevere. Hang in there, and until next time, be well!
Posted by Kevin Maloney at 8:08 PM
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
|Rise up to HIV logo|
Mission: to educate, inspire, empower, advocate, network and partake in social change through unilateral and collaborative social media efforts of organizations, PLWHA, and other individuals with diverse backgrounds from all over the World.
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· Using your voice and story to help reduce stigma
· Participating in an AIDS walk
· Donating to an HIV/AIDS related organization
· Organizing an HIV /AIDS related event
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· Working in the HIV/AIDS field
· Someone who is HIV negative
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Posted by Kevin Maloney at 4:47 PM
Saturday, October 8, 2011
I was diagnosed with HIV March 3rd, 2010 (19 months ago) and a month later was told I also contracted Hepatitis C through sexual intercourse, not IV drug use. These labs are 18 months into ART (Anti Retroviral Treatment) for my HIV which consists of the medications Truvada and Isentress. I was also treated for Hepatitis C genotype 1a for 6 months using interferon and ribavirin, and these test results below are nearly 1 year POST hepaitis C treatment.
|HIV Tests||My Value||Normal Range|
|HIV-1 VIRAL LOAD||<20||<20|
|ABS T HELPER||382||480 - 1700|
|% T HELPER||28||33 - 65|
My Viral load was orginally 1 million and went undetectable within 6 weeks after starting ART and has remained undectable since. An undetectable viral load means you are surpressing the virus; the virus is not replicating, invading and attacking your immune system.
Before going into these labs I told my doctor I was going to be upset if my CD4 was below 400 again. Since my diagnosis I have only seen my CD4 above 400 just once. The lowest it got was 250 at the height of my HEP C treatment. My doctor called me about these results and told me my bone marrow/T cell generating sites still have not completely recovered from the interferon and that some take longer than others, but that I am in safe range.
A normal CD4 cell count in an HIV-negative man is between 400 and 1600 per cubic millimetre of blood (but doctors normally just give a figure, e.g. 500). CD4 cell counts in HIV-negative women tend to be a little higher, between 500 and 1700.
CD4 % : A normal result in a person with an intact immune system is about 40%, and a CD4 cell percentage below 20% indicates the same risk of becoming ill with an AIDS-definining illness as a CD4 cell count of about 200
Read more about HIV viral load, CD4, and Percentage
|Hepatitis C Test||My Value||Reference Range|
|HCV TMA (IU)||<5||<5|
I learned of my Hepatitis C diagnosis in April of 2010. Once my CD4 reach the 400's I started hepatitis c treatment which consisted of interferon and ribavirin. Because I caught my hepatitis C in the acute statge my doctor was comfortable with 6 months of treatment vs the standard 11 months. I went from a 7 million Hep C viral load to undetectable by week 6, which is considered an RVR (Rapid Virologic Response). Six months post treatment I was still undetectable and remain so today, nearly 12 months post hep c treatment. This means I have CURED my hepatitis C. I cannot infect anyone with hep c and it will not come back, unless I become re-infected.
Read more about Hepatitis C
|CBC Tests||My Value||Normal Range|
|ALBUMIN||4.8||3.4 - 5.2|
|BILIRUBIN TOTAL||0.5||0.1 - 1.2|
|CALCIUM||9.8||8.5 - 10.5|
|CHLORIDE||103||96 - 108|
|CREATININE||1.06||0.70 - 1.20|
|GLUCOSE||83||65 - 139|
|ALK.PHOSPHATASE||104||30 - 110|
|POTASSIUM||4.6||3.5 - 5.0|
|PROTEIN TOTAL||8.1||6.0 - 8.3|
|SODIUM||139||135 - 145|
|AST (SGOT)||25||1 - 50|
|UREA NITROGEN||16||11 - 25|
|CO2 TOTAL||27.3||22.0 - 32.0|
|ALT(SGPT)||20||1 - 53|
This is a basic panel of tests that are common in annual physicals. In people who are HIV positive and HIV negative. The tests I am concerned with most in this panel is the glucose test to tell if I may be diabetic, also sodium, and AST and ALT tests. You cannot tell from a CBC test that you have HIV. The AST and ALT tests are your liver function tests and most telling. These are indicators of how well your liver is functioning. If these numbers are above normal it could indicate liver disease such as hepatitis. When I found out I had hepatitis my AST was over 200 and my ALT was above 600!! With the cure of my hep c my Liver Function Tests (LFT's) are back to normal.
Read more about CBC tests and HIV
|CBC+PLT+DIFF Tests||My Value||Normal Range|
|WHITE BLOOD CELL||3.7||4.5 - 11.0|
|RED BLOOD CELL||4.27||4.50 - 6.00|
|HEMOGLOBIN||13.7||13.9 - 16.3|
|HEMATOCRIT||39.2||42.0 - 52.0|
|MEAN CORP. VOLUME||91.8||80.0 - 98.0|
|MEAN CORP. HGB||32.1||27.0 - 32.0|
|MEAN CORP. HGB CONC.||35||32.0 - 35.0|
|RED DISTRIB. WIDTH||13.1||11.5 - 15.0|
|PLATELET||174||150 - 450|
|MEAN PLT VOLUME||8.6||7.4 - 12.0|
|NEUTROPHIL %||50.8||40.0 - 78.0|
|LYMPHOCYTE %||36.5||15.0 - 50.0|
|MONOCYTE %||10.3||2.0 - 11.0|
|EOSINOPHIL %||1.9||0.0 - 5.0|
|BASOPHIL %||0.5||0.0 - 1.0|
|NEUTROPHIL #||1.9||1.9 - 8.0|
|LYMPHOCYTE #||1.3||1.0 - 4.5|
|MONOCYTE #||0.4||0.2 - 1.0|
|EOSINOPHIL #||0.1||0.0 - 0.6|
|BASOPHIL #||0||0.0 - 0.2|
When look at these tests I look to my WBC and RBC, Platelets, as well as the "percentage" tests and "#' tests. These are indicators of infections, cancers, anemia, and so much more. People infected with HIV tend to have WBC and RBC on the lower side of normal as well as low platlets. If WBC and platlets are too low it may point to anemia and possible infection. You may need a transfusion if the numbers stay very low. For the percents the higher to normal the better, for the #'s the lower the better. A low percent or higher # could indicate a cancer risk.
Read more about CBC W/DIFF
|Miscellaneous Tests||My value||Normal Range|
|VITAMIN D, 25 HYDROXY||46.2||30.0 - 100.0|
|INTACT PARATHYROID HORMONE||68||16 - 87|
|GAMMA GT||12||1 - 54|
|EGFR AFRICAN AM||>60.00||ml/min/1.73m|
|EGFR NON-AFR AM||>60.00||ml/min/1.73m|
With these set of tests Vitamin D has become increasingly important in HIV positive and non infected individuals. Normal to high levels of Vitamin D have shown to decrease heart disease risk and shows bone loss, so the higher the better. If you live in the sun and are in the sun year round your number will tend to be high. I live in the North and am barely in the sun. I take 50,000 IU weekly of Vitamin D to keep this number up. Non-Reactive means - not infected. Gamma GT is another test for liver damage the lower the number the better. EGFR is a kidney function test and anything over >60.00 is good!
To read more about the above lab tests and what they mean i've compiled a list of a few resources including the ones above.
HIV LAB Result Meanings:
Lab Test Interpretation
Lab Tests Online
AIDS Meds Lab Interpretations
Lab Interpretations from thebody.com
On your smart phone check out the app LABGear
Different labs may have different reference ranges and taking certain medications can affect your test results.
By Kevin @RiseUpToHIV
on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/riseuptohiv
Posted by Kevin Maloney at 10:57 PM