Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part story.
My hope is by sharing my story, which I’ve told to only a few friends, you also might be encouraged to document and share your own story about AIDS. It is our stories that are the heart and soul of the history of AIDS. None should be forgotten.
1989: Thus began my quest to have the most unpopular and denounced drug in the world be accepted as the therapy to reverse wasting syndrome and bring people back to life. I believe this was, in fact, the first Lazarus Effect treatment. Within three years, anabolic steroids became standard treatment to reverse AIDS-related wasting.
1993: The judge in Dr. Walter Jekot’s case was the same judge who presided over the Rodney King case in Los Angeles. Jekot was sent to a federal prison just outside of Las Vegas for four years. I dropped him off at the prison’s gate myself.
Six years later, the California Medical Board, which had revoked Dr. Jekot’s license to practice medicine, reinstated it – in part, because of his life-saving contribution to the AIDS community.
1994: It was after I moved to New York City in 1994 that I learned I was HIV positive. I remember taking the test, praying and hoping I wasn’t positive. But I was and so was the love of my life. We broke up four years later, and I remember how much I hoped we would get back together and everything would be all right. I hoped my HIV medications would work, so I wouldn’t go blind from the CMV retinitis that started to take hold of my eyesight.
I hoped every day I could have just one more T-cell to add to the 49 hiding somewhere in my body. My magic number, and the one I obsessed over every single day, was 201. If I could pass 200, no one could say I had AIDS. Instead I’d be considered only HIV positive.
Within three months my body weight dropped from 180 to 140 pounds and I hoped before I died my mother wouldn’t cry out in horror when she looked at her son, now a mere shadow of himself.
When I decided to turn hope into action, something in me changed, as if by magic. Simply put, I began to feel more in control of what I couldn’t control. Three years later, with the help and support of a New York City AIDS outreach center, my T-cells jumped to 455 and my viral load was undetectable.
Because I had no control over the information provided by the AIDS medical community, I soon decided to create my own medical journal — out of pure frustration that came from trying to encourage the use of anabolic steroid therapy for AIDS wasting syndrome.
I wanted to create a medical journal for both healthcare providers and for their patients, which could help them make the best possible healthcare decisions. The journal was called NUMEDX
NUMEDX focused on nutrition, medicine, exercise and complementary and alternative therapies. Within three years readership grew to more than half a million people worldwide. NUMEDX consumed the next 10 years of my life.
This is my story. Although the Centers for Disease Control considers me merely a statistic, I know and you know, too, that behind every statistic lies a story.
Someday somewhere someone is going to ask you, perhaps it’ll be someone you love, to tell your story about your contribution to the war against AIDS. We must all move forward together, expanding hope to embrace action. We all have the power to come together to change the course of your personal history. We are the history of AIDS.
2005: I was relaxing on the beach in my hometown of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., listening to waves, watching sea gulls, feeling the sun on my face, when it hit me like a bolt of lightning: Hey! Wait! I was prescribed anabolic steroids for my own AIDS wasting! The very treatment I had fought so hard for so many years actually saved my own life.
You never know what can happen when you focus on hope and then turn it into action. One day you might realize that you saved your own life.