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First Person


The possibility of HIV superinfection scares the hell out of me. Since I am already near the end of the combinations of medications that work for me, the risk of reinfection with another strain of HIV from someone who is resistant to medications I have yet to take is a major concern. I'm currently taking Kaletra and Viread along with Norvir, but I'm resistant to at least four other medications and don't want to become resistant to more. I also don't want to pass along my drug-resistant virus to someone whose HIV infection is still susceptible to all of the treatments I cannot take. I was infected with HIV when I was younger and less educated. I wish it was easier to get across to young people the message that condoms can save your life. In my work as a peer advocate at a San Diego'area community health center, I see kids 19 years old and younger who were just diagnosed with HIV infection, and it kills me. Often, they were simply not properly educated about condom use, didn't have access to condoms, or just didn't want to use them. I had to make a personal decision that I was not going to have sex any longer without condoms. No condom means no sex. I won't run the risk of superinfection any longer. Sure, this policy gets in the way at times, but the risk is too great. I'm not willing to take a chance'not with my health and not with my partner's health. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm just saying it's worth it. This virus is smart. It's tricky. Anything I can do to slow its progress in my body, I'm going to do it. And avoiding superinfection is an important step that I'm taking. Albert is a peer advocate at a San Diego community health center and a volunteer at Being Alive.

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