Can I still complain about getting older if I was supposed to be dead twenty years ago? That's the dilemma of aging HIV positive guys like me. Feeling victorious over AIDS only takes your self esteem so far; there's no HIV medication to fight wrinkles.
Oh wait, there is. I had facial injections last year (and showed you the process) to alleviate moderate facial wasting, and it fixed me right up. Then I got padded butt shorts for those occasions I wear my beloved 501's and I want to feel more confident. And let's not forget the testosterone my doctor prescribed years ago that has kept a youthful bounce in my step ever since. If this is all strictly for HIV treatment, Joan Rivers is a long term AIDS survivor.
Last year I created a video posting for My Fabulous Disease about the battle between my gratitude for aging and my vanity (after the jump), and I'll admit it might be the funniest five minutes on the site. I discuss bars, boys, butt pads and Donny Osmond -- something for everyone!
"Aging and HIV" appears to be the hot topic of the day. Conferences and workshops of the topic abound, and as the patient population considers their unexpected Golden Years, concerns about the long term effects of HIV infection and the impact of decades of medications are increasing. And then there's the emotional implications.
"Aging is a challenge for all of us. But, for gay men living with HIV it is even more complex," says Dr. James Masten, author of the upcoming book Aging with HIV: A Gay Man's Guide. "This war has utilized all their emotional resources and few have had the time to consider the challenge of aging."
Well, not so fast. I make time to obsess about aging. But please continue, doctor.
"Research has found higher rates of depression, lack of social support, and reduced quality of life among middle aged and older people living with HIV. Adapting to aging with HIV can become complicated when emotional issues such as HIV-stigma, internalized ageism, unresolved grief, or survivor guilt impact one's ability to care for oneself fully in the present."
So I suppose I should live in the present and stop posting videos I made over a year ago. Seriously, these issues have the ring of the same emotional minefields I've been navigating for the last twenty years. But I'll check out his book for any tips he might have on advanced age. And avoiding jowls.
Meanwhile, research on HIV and aging is being released left and right. The sum of this research seems to suggest that we'll be more frail in our older age, have a tendency for more loss of bone density than the average person, and about twice as likely to have cognitive issues.
You can check the links yourself, but the news is a lot better than I would have guessed. I had expected people with HIV/AIDS to be waiting en masse for liver transplants by now. Remember, too, that people with HIV/AIDS are more likely to smoke, to have a drug abuse history, multiple sexual partners and other STD's... basically, as a group we're Heavy Metal Bad. The fact research suggests we're more likely to be frail or forget our own phone number makes perfect sense to me.