Thursday, October 20, 2011

With patience and persistance, you will perservere! 20 months post diagnoses

I was diagnosed with HIV on March 3rd, 2010, and one month later with follow up labs was told I had also contracted Hepatitis C; it was genotype 1a which is the most common, but the least curable strain. I was told I had a 15 percent chance at curing it, but since I caught it early my chances of curing it could be as high as 80 percent.
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!

Kevin Maloney





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is my story, what's yours?

I tell you the story of my life to the background music of the Fray; "How to save a life".

I want to hear your story. Send me a video reply and ill post it on my you tube channel at http://www.youtube.com/riseuptohiv





Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mission, Vision, and what it means to Rise Up To HIV....

 
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.

Vision: To create positive change for ones selves, families, and entire communities around the World through an army of compassionate individuals and organizations as we march towards the cure for HIV/AIDS.







What does it mean to Rise up to HIV? Below are examples
·         Getting tested for HIV; knowing your status
·         Advocating for a just cause HIV/AIDS related
·         Anything that raises awareness of HIV/AIDS
·         Volunteering in the HIV/AIDS community
·         Using your voice and telling your story to educate others
·         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
·         Offering your hand in hand to help someone with HIV/AIDS
·         Working in the HIV/AIDS field
·         Someone who is HIV negative
·         Writing about your experience, strength, and hope living with HIV/AIDS
  • The list could go on and on.......


If you are Rising Up To HIV then I would like to hear about it, so that I can feature your story on my blog.
Please contact me by e mailing me at kevin@riseuptohiv.org .  Introduce yourself, tell me your story.
Looking forward to hearing from you!



Kevin Maloney
"Voices in unity strengthening community"
twitter: http://www.twitter.com/riseuptohiv
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/riseuptohiv
you tube: http://www.youtube.com/riseuptohiv

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My latest HIV Labs 19 months post HIV/HCV diagnosis

I wanted to share with you my latest HIV labs in hopes of familiarizing those newly infected with HIV to the kind of tests that may be performed at your check up every 3-6 months. I'll also explain some tests, and point you in the direction of resources to help you interpret your results. Please comment, I love comments!!

Background:

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 TestsMy ValueNormal Range
HIV-1 VIRAL LOAD<20<20
ABS T HELPER382480 - 1700
% T HELPER2833 - 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 TestsMy ValueNormal Range
ALBUMIN4.83.4 - 5.2
BILIRUBIN TOTAL0.50.1 - 1.2
CALCIUM9.88.5 - 10.5
CHLORIDE10396 - 108
CREATININE1.060.70 - 1.20
GLUCOSE8365 - 139
ALK.PHOSPHATASE10430 - 110
POTASSIUM4.63.5 - 5.0
PROTEIN TOTAL8.16.0 - 8.3
SODIUM139135 - 145
AST (SGOT)251 - 50 
UREA NITROGEN1611 - 25 
CO2 TOTAL27.322.0 - 32.0
ALT(SGPT)201 - 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 TestsMy Value Normal Range
WHITE BLOOD CELL3.74.5 - 11.0
RED BLOOD CELL4.274.50 - 6.00
HEMOGLOBIN13.713.9 - 16.3
HEMATOCRIT39.242.0 - 52.0
MEAN CORP. VOLUME91.880.0 - 98.0
MEAN CORP. HGB32.127.0 - 32.0
MEAN CORP. HGB CONC.3532.0 - 35.0
RED DISTRIB. WIDTH13.111.5 - 15.0
PLATELET174150 - 450
MEAN PLT VOLUME8.67.4 - 12.0
NEUTROPHIL %50.840.0 - 78.0
LYMPHOCYTE %36.515.0 - 50.0
MONOCYTE %10.32.0 - 11.0
EOSINOPHIL %1.90.0 - 5.0
BASOPHIL %0.50.0 - 1.0
NEUTROPHIL #1.91.9 - 8.0
LYMPHOCYTE #1.31.0 - 4.5
MONOCYTE #0.40.2 - 1.0
EOSINOPHIL #0.10.0 - 0.6
BASOPHIL #00.0 - 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 HYDROXY46.230.0 - 100.0
INTACT PARATHYROID HORMONE6816 - 87
SYPHILIS RPRNON-REACTIVENON-REACTIVE
GAMMA GT121 - 54
EGFR AFRICAN AM>60.00ml/min/1.73m
EGFR NON-AFR AM>60.00ml/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

NOTE:
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

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