Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Message from My HIV Journey

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ICW issues call to action after recent murder of HIV positive woman.



ICW calls for education of the public on HIV transmission routes and hindrance of violence against HIV positive women as a result of a monstrous murder in Texas, USA


ICW North America
June 24th, 2014

Washington, DC


The International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) and the North America (ICWNA)chapterare shocked to learn the news of the murder of Elisha Henson, an HIV positive woman from Texas, USA this past May.  Her murder was as a result of the ignorance of the murderers of the ways that HIV is transmitted and the overall social stigma towards HIV positive women.

According to several media outlets, Justin Welch and Rosalind Welch Smith, have been charged with Henson’s murder. Authorities believe that the alleged perpetrator, Justin Welch, killed Ms. Henson after learning her status following a virtually zero-risk transmission encounter: receiving oral sex, female to male.

ICW thereby call for massive action towards educating people of the possibilities of HIV transmission. This atrocious event teaches us that the lack of adequate information puts vulnerable people, especially HIV positive women, to extremely dangerous situations followed by stigma-fuelled reactions by the public.

Enough is enough!” said Jessica Whitbread, ICW Interim Global Director, “The team at ICW, are absolutely appalled at the fact that there is not more outcry for such a horrific event. Our heart goes out to Elisha and her loved ones.”

Fear of the unknown, mainstream stigma and inaccurate facts can lead to an ignition of anger leading to violence in those where the potential already exists. As a community we should ensure that violence against women, violence based on a woman’s status, and violence based on ignorance of the facts and lack of mainstream education comes to an end.

Accurate and easy to understand facts about HIV transmission needs to be infused into the minds of the general public via far-reaching media outlets and not just contained within the HIV community” added Karen Marcinczyk, ICWNA Coordinator.

We must end the criminalisation against positive women including disclosure laws which only encourage stigma and validate the idea that being HIV positive is a crime that must be prosecuted. We must stop criminalization to guarantee that other HIV positive women in the world do not suffer the same fate.

ICW asks that all communities, including the HIV community, the media and law enforcement begin to work together to eliminate violence against positive women, seek justice and provide responsible, accurate and stigma-free communication to the public which puts their trust in them.

For more information contact:

Karen Marcinczyk, ICW North America Coordinator

Arinola Elizabeth Nite, ICW Communications Associate


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Insurer Says “Ryan White No Good”

The New Battle of New Orleans: Insurer Says “Ryan White No Good”

By Aaron M. Laxton

There is a new battle raging in the deep-south that without doubt could have implications for everyone living
with HIV/AIDS across the United States. Louisiana has found itself in a battle between those living with HIV/AIDS and insurance providers, namely Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) Louisiana.

The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted earlier this year, has served to leave patients living with HIV/AIDS in the cold. Transitioning from statewide AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) and other assistance programs has been anything but seem-less. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Louisiana has arbitrarily decided to not accept third-party payments; this is generally how those living with HIV/AIDS obtain assistance through Ryan White Care Act. 

According to Robert Darrow who started the online petition, "The state's largest carriers is rejecting checks from a federal program designed to help these patients pay for AIDS drugs and insurance premiums, and has begun notifying customers that their enrollment in it Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) will be discontinued."

 As outlined in a Press Release put out by Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana, the insurer states "Effective March 1, 2014, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana will no longer accept third-party payments for our individual members' premiums. Only the policyholder or an immediate relative (by blood or marriage) or legal guardian of the policyholder (e.g. parent, spouse, sibling) can pay for that policyholder's healthcare premium." Three of the four health insurers in Louisiana offered through the state-ran Market Place will now essentially deny insurance to people living with HIV who need assistance to be insured.

Why should you be concerned about this if you are not living in Louisiana? The fear among advocates and AIDS advocacy organizations is that the trend that is being tested in Louisiana will set precedence which will become the new standard nationwide. Mark S. King, Kevin Maloney and Dorian Gray Alexander have all taken the fight directly to the insurer via an online media and a petition through Additionally advocates in southern-border states are closely monitoring the situation. 

Should Blue Cross Blue Shield succeed the future of AIDS assistance programs for medical and prescription coverage could change for those who are the most vulnerable. If you have not done so already be take a moment to sign the online petition and let you voice be heard today.  

AIDS Discrimination in Louisiana Petition 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 6: Fatigue and Tingling on Stribild

So today is day six on Stribild and for the most-part things have went as expected. Initially dreams had subsided however they have since returned. I am sleeping through the entire night and that is something that I was not able to do when I was on Atripla. On day 4 I started to experience severe fatigue. I actually haven't been that fatigued since I was first diagnosed and had a viral load of over a million. The best way to describe the fatigue is to say it feels like no matter how much rest I get I am still tired. To counter this I am just taking it really easy and trying to rest up.

Most of the symptoms come and go in waves so I just have to wait the symptoms out. There are times when concentration is extremely difficult and things are "cloudy". This is also coupled with moments where I simply do not feel well. Those moments come really quickly and disappear after a few minutes. Tonight I was laying on the bed and I started to feel tingling in my left arm, left side of my face, right lower back and right leg.

Around this same time I was also experiencing mild nausea. Again all of these symptoms come and go in waves. I have also had incidence of my headaches but I have simply taken Tylenol to treat the headache and they have went away.

I am not stressing over the side effects. I know that from taking Atripla that side effects generally subside as your body becomes adjusted to the medication. All in all the switch is going fairly smoothly and I am still glad that I chose to switch. I also got a letter in the mail today letting me know that my insurance would cover the cost of Stribild. I need to contact the specialty pharmacy tomorrow and arrange the shipment of my next months supply. I will be sure to blog about how that goes.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 3: Stribild Rash

Day 3: Stribild Rash

Greetings! Well today marks the third day since I have switched from Atripla to Striblild. I can say that so far it has been uneventful. I have experienced almost no side effects that many others have experienced. I have however noticed that at times I have a headache that will come and go. I cannot say that this is exclusively because of the medication though. Tonight as I got out of the shower I noticed that I had developed a rash on my chest/abdomen that radiates across the width of my body to my flanks. I am not alarmed by this when I first start Atripla I developed a pretty bad Atripla-rash. I know that if they rash becomes bothersome that I can take Benadryl for it and I will keep an eye on it.

Regarding my sleep, I can tell a huge difference in my quality of sleep and I am no longer waking up in the middle of the night. The only other side effect that I might be experiencing is heart burn which means I need to eat more when I take the medication. I have not had any other problems though.

 <---- Here you can see the start of the rash. Eventually it will most likely spread over the entirety of my trunk.

When you look at them close up they it simply looks like hives
or areas of raised skin.                                               --------->

<----- Again it is across my trunk spreading L flank to R flank.