Make Yourself Comfortable
BY Winston Gieseke
June 16 2011 12:00 AM ET
After two decades of living with HIV, Terry Delonas found himself smuggling a cushion into the board meetings he attended for the various AIDS service organizations with which he worked. One of the side effects of his 20 years' worth of medication was severe lipoatrophy'loss of fat tissue'in the thighs and buttocks, which made sitting down for long stretches extremely painful, even in the nicest chairs.
If only there was a cushion you could wear, he thought. When a search turned up no such product, Delonas decided to create his own. The result was SitRelief Shorts, a medically designed pair of padded underwear that combines a comfortable polyester and spandex short with highly resilient foam.
Featuring tapered pads with infinity edges on all sides (ensuring that there is no telltale bulge where the pad begins and ends), the cushioning goes from the waistband all the way down to the mid-thigh. The smart, realistic design provided an added benefit, which Delonas says came out in the clinical trials. Not only did the shorts allow for a discreet relief from the HIVers' suffering, it also made them feel better on the inside. The added contour and shape made people's pants fit better, which made them less self-conscious about their wasting appearance.
For the trials, Delonas sought the help of four local HIV doctors, who enrolled 40 patients of various ages, all of whom were experiencing either mild, moderate, or severe lipoatrophy in the buttocks and thighs. The results were astounding: The average patient went from an ability to sit for 12 minutes without the shorts to a vastly improved 187 minutes with them.
The doctors were just as enthusiastic as the patients, saying the shorts prevented the fragile tissue and veins in the legs and buttocks from being crushed while protecting the patient's bones. And by allowing people to go to movies or to classes or seminars, the product greatly improved their quality of life.
To date, LipoWear, Delonas's year-old Orange County, Calif.-based company, has sold about 1,000 pairs of SitRelief shorts, which come in six sizes for men and five for women. While Delonas says his biggest obstacle is the fact that the people who need his product the most are often the ones least able to afford it, his goal is to get Medicare approval so patients can get them by prescription. Meanwhile, his greatest rewards are the amazing letters he receives from grateful customers. 'People say this has really changed their lives. And as a daily user, I can underscore that. It has changed mine as well.' LipoWear.com