My HIV Diary: Drinking My Information, Week 50
Ryan Dixon (a.k.a former porn star Kameron Scott) has started taking HIV medication. He’s keeping a diary of his experience.
Being in my mid-20’s isn’t easy, add HIV on top of that and we have one hell of a complicated life. I’m making the best out of the hand life has dealt me and the decisions I’ve made along the way. Writing helps free my mind. Hopefully these words will help you understand the plight of others like myself, and inspire you to live each and every day in the moment.
Week 50 (Aug. 9 – Aug. 15)
After receiving a low CD4 count two weeks ago, my doctor called me a few days ago to update me on my numbers again. My count came back up to 850 and 43 percent. I most likely had a small infection that caused my number to drop, but again, the important thing is my percentage didn’t change. My doctor and I did have a discussion about another number he noticed a rise in. I don’t recall the specific enzyme or scientific name for how he knew what he knew, but he told me he could tell I’ve had an influx of alcohol intake.
I have to admit, I’ve found comfort in a screwdriver or two the last few months. I had one week where I went out drunk four days in a row. I was drinking to forget the situation I had gotten myself into. I was drinking at home and out. I’ve started to correct that problem this last week. I’ve had maybe four beers and no hard liquor. I’m even thinking of challenging myself to go sober just to see how much better I know my body is going to feel. My weight has been going down like I want it to so I have a feeling that will help as well.
HIVers often have a misconception that combining their meds and alcohol can have toxic effects. Last June at the International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence in Miami, a study which monitored patients’ beliefs about mixing alcohol and ART medicines showed half of the participants admitted skipping doses to drink. I, personally, have never done that but I have made the decision not to drink if I’ve taken my meds at night. The study also found that those who believed it was dangerous to mix alcohol and their meds were three times likely not to comply with their adherence.
Non-adherence means risking a rise in viral load or a drop in CD4 helper cells. My doctor and I have discussed drinking and he told me this: everything in moderation. This applies to anyone with a chronic disease treated by medication. So next time you see me out, I’ll may be sitting behind a Shirley Temple.