Finally, A Gay Topic

August 10, 2008

I’ve been writing here several months now.  Most of my words have been about my parents, going through memories and emotions after their deaths last year.  Some has been politics, some the garden (which is also tied back to my mother), and some just daily life.  Like that actor on Grey’s Anatomy, I suppose that I can say that being gay is not the most interesting thing about me.  It’s not what I think about or write about most, although it is central to my identity.

I read a number of gay blogs.  There was one post Friday on Joe. My. God. which has had a long comment thread.  He had displayed this image from a condom ad in Argentina and invited discussion on their take on a safer sex promotion:

Argentine Condom Ad Evokes Dia de Los Muertos

Naturally, the comments have been animated.

After seeing there some comparison and contrast of the situation of persons who have HIV with those who have diabetes, I was moved to post the following.  It was at a moment when Freddie was taking a nap, having worn himself out trying to fix the lawn mower.  He naps, almost every afternoon, and sleeps eleven or more hours a night.  He is very weak and fatigued these days.  Anyhow, here’s what I wrote, albeit with minor editing for grammar.  The link puts in context.

…here’s a different perspective on your discussion of HIV and diabetes: My partner has both. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1970 at age 12. He tested positive in 1984 when the HIV test first came out. Now at age 50, he is a long-term survivor of both diseases.

The following is just his own personal experience. It’s not meant to be an opinion for anyone else nor to provide guidance, but perhaps it will help you to understand better the “manageability” of both diseases.

In his case, the diabetes is much worse than the HIV. He has always told me that his HIV will not kill him, but the diabetes will. We met in 2000 when he had been on the cocktail for awhile. He also takes insulin and checks his blood glucose level constantly. His diabetes is very “brittle” and he has low blood sugar reactions several times a week.

He has diabetic retinopathy and has had numerous laser eye surgeries over the years; he is, at this time, legally blind. He can see fairly well most of the time, but there have been episodes when he lost his vision completely.

I expect that he will die years, possibly decades, before I do.

It is hard to say which disease is the cause of some of his symptoms and conditions. Perhaps the diabetes and HIV in combination, along with the long-term use of retrovirals, are also a factor. He has coronary artery disease, peripherial neuropathy, avascular necrosis. His fatigue and weakness are such that he spends most of the day, many days, in bed. His life is that that of someone twenty or thirty years older than his chronological age.

Of course, HIV in itself can be devastating. Both of us have lost dear friends, particularly back in the 1980s. Others are progressing into this “limbo” of premature aging while in their 50s or 60s, but none so deeply or early as my partner. Others with HIV are still doing well, living active lives. I don’t know if it’s a matter of lifestyle, attitude, or luck of the draw.

I’m glad to see the HIV prevention message out there for young people, who seem to be contracting it in increasing rates. I have to keep reminding myself that the message isn’t meant for me (though I am negative) and if it seems presented in a tasteless or over-the-top manner, I’m not going to complain. I’ve heard it before, over and over again, for the last quarter century. If anything, I had to deal with “safer-sex-education-fatigue” years ago. Instead, I can just move on and leave this message for it’s intended audience, wishing them the best.

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