Around ASF Blog
Volume 1 / Entry 29
December 13, 2012
This week’s entry marks something new for this blog. We have a guest blogger! It was not my intention that I, solely, would write the entries here. But up until now, I had no other offers to contribute. I’m very happy this week to serve only as editor and present a new voice from ASF.
Please allow me to introduce you to Ariel Vapor. And please enjoy part 1 of the story of his journey with HIV/AIDS.
In the spring of 2006, something different was happening to my body. I didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t good. First there were painful boils on my skin that looked like the eyes of a monster—purple, red, blistered. When the blisters burst open, the pain was excruciating. It was pain like I had never before experienced. I’d later find out it was a bacterial staph infection called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusil, or MRSA. Then my nose wouldn’t stop running. Then the chills would shake me. Then the sweating and fever.
I went to the emergency room at the UCI Medical Center and there I heard the words that would change my life: “You have AIDS.” They staff was very “clinical” about the explanation of the diagnosis—it was very surreal. Their words blurred and I felt as if I was falling from the sky, crashing down to earth. It was scary.
I left the ER with my brother. He was the first person I told about my AIDS diagnosis. There wasn’t much conversation beyond that disclosure. The ride home was silent, yet my mind was whirling a thousand miles and more a minute. My first thought was, “How am I going to heal?” I didn’t have health care because I hadn’t worked in so long. I had heard the medicines were expensive. How would I pay for them? How would I react to them? I was also coming out of the grips of addiction and I knew I had to change my life. But how? In what ways? With what support?
The following morning, I told a friend about my diagnosis. Thankfully, at the time, he had a primary care physician who was an internist/infectious disease doctor. With diagnosis in hand, I was introduced to that doctor in a matter of days. He told me he was working on a clinical trial for the dosing of Kaletra and Truvada. He said that he would include me in the trial, if I would stay clean and sober. That was the day I stopped using illicit drugs and drinking heavily. That was the day I got my first bottles of Kaletra and Truvada. And, that was the day I first heard of AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) in Irvine. I went to ASF the following week. Little did I know at the time that my life would drastically change—all those questions of how I’d begin to heal and who would support me were to be answered with my first visit to the agency.
Ariel’s story will continue next week in the “Around ASF” blog.
Thanks for reading!
Director of Communications and Public Relations