Guest Blogger

I'm Living With 'Poz Face'

Filed By Guest Blogger | July 26, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: buffalo hump, guest blog, HIV/AIDS, lipodystrophy, Michael Petrelis, Poz Face

Editors' Note: From San Francisco, Guest blogger and advocate Michael Petrelis reports stories the mainstream media choose to ignore. Michael has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, CNN, ABC News, and National Public Radio. He has been quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Raw Story, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, and Stars & Stripes.

DSCN0065.JPGA high number of people with AIDS (PWAs) take drug cocktails to keep the HIV viral load down and boost the immune system, and extended use of the medicines can lead to a side effect known as lipodystrophy, which is the body fat rearranging itself in several areas of the body.

When lipodystrophy affects the face, deep creases and crevices in the cheeks appear, and this was once known as protease face, but has since evolved into poz face.

Other ways lipodystrophy changes the body is when the back of the neck enlarges to the point of a buffalo hump shape, while the stomach expands into a protease paunch, which derives from one key ingredient to the drug cocktail. For some reason, this last term has not devolved to poz paunch.

I'm living with poz face, buffalo hump and protease paunch, and I'm lucky enough to have public insurance and access to top-notch doctors and researchers. The reason why I'm mentioning all this is to, you'll pardon the expression, put a face to what it is like to be a PWA in 2010, after more than a decade of being on ever-evolving cocktails.

I consider my poz face to be one of character, and won't be getting the facial filler treatment to puff up my cheeks. The looks of sadness, obnoxious emails from adversaries and occasional instant rejection when people on the street realize I'm a pozzie, are things I can live with.

Sure, it ain't pleasant to have these and other side effects to contend with, but I know how blessed I am to be alive and able to take the medicines, while too many PWAs perished before the development of these powerful, and expensive, drugs. Oh, what the dead would give to be here facing the weird body changes.

And when I get the temporary blues about my poz face, I think of Mick Jagger. He does not have AIDS, nor is he taking a cocktail, but these days he has the classic poz face and he doesn't seem to want facial filler or other surgery to deal with his facial creases.

I reserve the right to change my mind about the options available to me, but for the time being, my poz face remains the same. The important thing to remember is my inner strength and the love of my friends and family, no matter what changes my body goes through because of AIDS and the drugs.

mick jagger.jpg

(The Rolling Stone legend, Mick Jagger.)


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Michael, I for one am delighted you are still with us, "poz" face and all.

Mick Jagger just today turns 67 years old. Most folks that old I know or know of (especially who are also that skinny!) have deep creases in their faces.

And if my old fart buddies decide they don't need "face-fillers" or what not, why should Mick or you for that matter?

One's face registers one's genetics and one's history. And yours includes a history of survival.

Gods bless.

Jake in Phoenix

You are beautiful just as you are, Michael.

Thank goodness for the few pozzies who are fearless enough to speak up and out for the rest of us. That helps every time showing it can be done -its okay- and we are not alone.
I'm grateful to say I've been here positively for twenty years now, and almost 15 have been living with the mind bending effects of lipodistrophy!
I'm 49yrs old and a female people have told me I look like Barbi Benton of Playboy fame. Fat face even was a pet name years ago. I'm a rock & Roll girl thank god for that, because like the other commenter said basically "its easy to trace the tracks of my tears" our faces are our canvas of our life. I'm finally proud to own mine, and if Mick Jagger can be hottie to the max kewl, by golly so am I! And post like this one help like mad!
I found it searching images on the web, then in private browsing lipodistrophy faces. I was living inside with no social life for awhile at first when changes began, worried I look to old for 40. Then!! I began seeing and old boyfriend who is hiv- and loves me anyway bless his leo lion heart, and I had to do something to keep up with him in the boodwah (*blush*) so I got a dvd and started working out with and ex cheerleader doing pilates-yoga-ballet stretching and viola a lot of the excess body fat has thinned way off!My face is still the same though. Boyfriend and I are still friends but not lovers anymore.
I hope this feedback is accepted and it helps someone else like me.