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Manageability Doesn't Mean Less Threat

Manageability Doesn't Mean Less Threat

The Advocate Guide to Gay Men's Health and Wellness by Frank Spinelli, MD, from Alyson Books, is a newly released resource for helping guys fine-tune their general well-being as well as learn more about HIV. In this excerpt Spinelli provides insight on how perceptions about the virus have evolved into a potentially destructive misunderstanding. There exists a sense of complacency concerning HIV. The disease is manageable, but to relegate it as another chronic condition like diabetes could be dangerous. The fact is there is a lack of familiarity among younger gay men concerning the AIDS epidemic. Categorizing HIV as a chronic disease makes many gay men feel that it is less of a threat. There are even some who see HIV as 'no big deal' and make the assumption that it is an inevitable part of life. Despite the clear benefits of a 'one-pill-once-a-day regimen,' HIV is still considered incurable and some men do not respond to drug therapy. The main questions concerning HIV are: How would you view having any other chronic disease? Would you want to be diabetic if you had the choice? Certainly no one should want to be infected, especially when it can be prevented. As for those who are positive, of course the simplicity and potency of the newer regimens has altered the course of HIV. Now those who are positive can expect to live out their full life expectancy; yet diminishing this disease as 'no big deal' could be further misconstrued by a generation of younger gay men. As of 2007 there were over 1 million people in the United States infected with HIV, and of those about 25% don't know they have it. Even more frightening is the fact that nearly 25% of people with HIV are, at the time of diagnosis, already in an advanced state of AIDS. Back in the 1980s a diagnosis of HIV was considered a death sentence. Fortunately, that is not the case anymore. There are many treatment options available now with fewer pills and better tolerability. It is estimated that if someone is diagnosed with HIV, they can live out their full life as long as they maintain their health. The key is education with an emphasis on prevention, but more important is the knowledge you've been infected. Excerpted courtesy of Alyson Books ( (c) 2008 by Frank Spinelli, MD
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