HIV: "I'm making the most of life!”
Published Nov 10, 2021 • By Candice Salomé
Philou79, member of the Carenity community in France, found he was HIV positive after a routine screening. At first he was sure he was going to die, but he soon found the strength to pick himself back up. Now he is living his life to the fullest!
Read his story below!
Hello Philou79, thank you for agreeing to share your story with us on Carenity!
First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, my name is Philippe, I am 61 years old, I live as a couple with another man, Mickael who is 40 years old. I'm retired and he works in an ESAT (the French Disabled Work Assistance Service). I like going out, cooking, seeing friends... I used to live in the Paris region and, since retiring, I have moved to the Deux-Sèvres department in mid-western France with my partner, who has a house there.
How and when did you find out you were HIV positive? How did handle the news?
About five years ago, I underwent a simple screening test in a health center. The first question I asked was: "How long do I have to live?" and, despite the reassuring answer from the doctor, the very next day I went to the funeral home to plan my funeral.
What care did you receive? Did you get all the information you needed to "control" your HIV to the best of your ability?
Within a week I went to see my primary care doctor. He referred me to a specialist at the hospital and, fortunately, I've only come across good doctors who have never judged me.
What impact has HIV had on your relationships with friends and family?
There has been no impact on my relationship with my loved ones. However, it is still a taboo subject, I am always afraid of their reaction, especially my friends, and I am afraid of being isolated.
What is it like to live with HIV today?
I live very well, I would even say better than before my diagnosis because now I live from day to day without worrying about saving for the future, not knowing when the disease will strike.
What medications are you taking? What do you think of them?
I have been taking a new medication Dovato, for two months. I am waiting to see the doctor next month to get the results of my blood test. If I am still undetectable, I will have a check-up every 6 months with the doctor.
Did you have to "test" different treatments before finding the right one for you? If so, could you tell us about it?
At first I was on Truvada with another drug, but I can't remember the name of it. It was damaging to my kidneys, so we switched to Isentress. I used to take three tablets a day and now with Dovato, I only take one tablet a day with two other drugs (atorvastatin and amlodipine). With my medical follow-up, it was discovered that I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure that had not been detected before.
What type of care are you currently receiving?
I see my specialist every six months at the hospital in Poitier, which is 55 miles from my home. The Deux-Sèvres department is a real medical desert. There is a brand new hospital, which opened 5 years ago, 6 miles from my home, but there is a lack of doctors who don't want to come here.
What are your plans for the future?
I don't think about it, I live from day to day and I enjoy life to the fullest. For me life is beautiful and carefree.
What do you think of patient exchange platforms like Carenity? Are you able to find the advice and support you're looking for?
It's a good thing, you feel less alone and you can ask your doctor when a Carenity member has a new treatment to see if it would be better for you too.
Finally, what advice would you like to give to Carenity members who are also HIV positive?
Enjoy life! If you are suffering, don't think about others and take the time to see your family as often as possible! Have family meals and go out, don't keep to yourself. There are more serious things in life.
Any final words?
I hope that my testimonial will give hope to those who have lost it. Thank you for your time.
Many thanks to Philou79 for sharing his story with us on Carenity!
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