ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for May, 2009

In the Duck House!

duck 3 (2)

Don’t you just love it that all those greedy MP’s are having to pay their extortionate and often unfounded claims for expenses back? Most of them it seems have been at it left right and centre and some of them have been ‘at it’ in all senses of the word, but we are used to that kind of behaviour, are we not, from our not so honourable Members of Parliament. Now thanks for once to the media their dastardly deeds are being exposed to public scrutiny and condemnation on a daily basis and many of them are being forced to stand down. At this rate there’ll be none left  standing as most of them are in the dog house or the ‘duck house’ as in the much publicised case of the Tory MP who claimed for a floating duck house for his pond.

Pond? Lake more like! When us commoners the proletariat think pond, we think of something from Argos or B&Q where we would be lucky to float a goldfish let alone a fleet of ducks – and it wasn’t exactly a house was it, it was a pavilion, although looking at the photograph the door seemed a tad small for the average duck to squeeze its feathered bottom through. But I suppose that particular Tory MP doesn’t need to concern himself about that anymore as his Daffy’s and Donald’s will be so much thinner now that he can no longer put in a claim for extra bread rations to fatten them up.  

I wonder what Gordon Brown or the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to do with all the money these rip off MP’s are being forced to return to the taxpayer? I wish they would put some of it into an HIV awareness raising and prevention campaign, but I suppose that is too much to ask. When you think about how much money was spent sending leaflets about the dreaded swine flu to every household in the land it does make you wonder why they don’t do something similar in relation to HIV. Their answer to that of course probably would be that swine flu has the possibility to affect anyone – but then so does HIV, but for some reason the ever rising statistics, especially amongst women and young people, are being kept constantly under wraps.

Did you know that you say HIV backwards in Spanish and its pronounced atchy-eeee-oovay, which sounds like an embarrassing female complaint, which it is of course and I should know as I’ve been living with itchyoovay now for seven years. I’m telling you this because I’m having to think half in English and half in Spanish at the moment because Luis is over here and due to his stubborn determination not to master the English Language and my laziness in relation to conquering the mysteries of the Spanish verb, we tend to speak Spanglish. For that reason, confusion might arise and all too frequently does. For example, if I ask him to pass me the pan he might well hand me a loaf of bread. It’s a good job that Tory MP doesn’t have a Spanish maid otherwise his pond would be floating with saucepans. Mind you it’s big enough to float a flotilla of pans as well as the entire contents of the Argos catalogue. I think I might have mentioned before that the word for bra in Spanish sounds very similar to saucepan, so he would have to watch his Spanish maid for that too otherwise he might end up causing more of a scandal and be in more trouble than he already is.

The Spanish word for knickers is braggers, but that doesn’t surprise me one bit, because listening to Luis, everything is so much better in Spain. According to wikipedia the word knicker originated in America and was down to a Dutch settler called Herman Knickerbockter, although I feel in view of what is currently going on with our MP’s ‘knicking’ the taxpayers money to clean their moats and buy floating pavillions for their ducks, wikipedia might be forced to update the information to include the Houses of Parliament.

Talking of things being back to front, did you know that the bubbles in a glass of Guinness float downwards instead of upwards? In order to prove this little known theory, Luis and I set off on a trip to Liverpool the closest point to Ireland we could get without taking the ferry and also with the intent of visiting Crosby beach the site of the Antony Gormley sculpture installations, aptly entitled, ‘Another Place’. I say aptly entitled because we’d tried to find them before and ended up in another place entirely. So this time we’d armed ourselves with a borrowed Tom Tom, but I fear Mrs Tom Tom must have been some distant relation of Major Tom Tom of David Bowie fame, because if her sense of navigation was anything to go by she obviously lived on another planet to us. She also had an annoying tendency to nod off when she was most needed.

“Ground control to Mrs Tom Tom,” I screamed at her at a busy intersection, shaking her by the throat and begging her to wake up and tell me which lane to take. But she ignored me and we ended up in a mega traffic jam of Everton supporters.

The Spanish are not renowned for their patience at the best of times, especially in regard to forming polite queues and Luis who was desperate for his pint of Guinness by now was starting to get decidedly agitated. The curses that issued from his Guinness starved mouth were not to be repeated and were mainly directed at Mrs Tom Tom, the traffic lights, which seemed to be constantly on red and the Everton supporters, calling them sons of prostitutes and various parts of the male anatomy, which was not a very wise thing to do, especially when the line of blue and white decked cars were at a standstill. As for Mrs Tom Tom it was all I could do to stop him from hurling her out of the window.

When we finally arrived at Crosby, a bleak run down seaside town, the weather had deteriorated, ominous black clouds hovered on the horizon and there were no pubs.

“No pubs?” Luis cried outraged, how could this be posseeeblay in the north of England.

In the end we settled for a dilapidated looking hotel called ‘The Grand’ and Guinness finally in hand he calmed down somewhat and settled back to investigate the descending bubble theory. This resulted in him downing two pints of the black stuff in a row in rapid succession. Guinness may well be good for you and beneficial for the heart as it allegedly slows down deposits of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls, but did you also know that it is treated with something called ‘isinglass’ which is made from fishes’ air bladders. Some things I feel it is preferable not to know. I am old enough to remember their original advertising campaign featuring the famous toucans and the accompanying slogan.

“Toucans in their nests agree Guinness is good for you. Try some today and see what one or toucan do.”

Well, Luis who had taken that sentiment literally found what that meant for him was he had to keep disappearing behind sand dunes for the rest of the day in order to relieve his Guinness filled bladder.

We left ‘The Grand Hotel’ and set off around the perimeters of a dismal black lake not dissimilar in itself to a huge pint of Guinness fringed as it was with a ring of sulphurous looking froth, with not a duck or a duck house in sight. But everyone else seemed to be going in the opposite direction. Where were they heading we asked ourselves. Maybe they knew where all the pubs were? Hordes of folk were descending through the gap in the sand dunes looking like something out of a Fellini movie – huge women with strange accents and enormous bosoms, tattooed men with arms like sides of beef nearly being pulled out of their sockets by snarling drug dealer type dogs. We elbowed our way through the gap in the dunes then scanned the horizon for the magnificent bronze sculptures we were so familiar with having seen them on the internet. But all we could see were some rusty looking figures in the distance lurking ominously in muddy puddles with their male appendages dangling and staring forlornly out to sea. We set off bravely across the wide expanse of dirty brown sand to get a closer look and take some photographs, although to be honest I was a bit nervous about getting stuck in some sinking sand and becoming an installation myself.

That fateful trip to ‘Another Place’ resulted in me catching some kind of bug which of course frightened the living daylights out of me in case it was swine flu. So I’ve now got a terrible toss and a bad case of constipado – Spanish for cough and cold.

Anyway for future trips and days out I don’t think we will be borrowing the Tom Tom and talking of Toms, I wrote a message to Tom Waits my musical hero on his website.

Dear Tom will you write a song about HIV?                                                                   A rap – a moan – some poetry                                                                                                For outcasts of society                                                                                                              For ‘invisible’ women the world can’t see

Or failing that just for me.

Not my best effort I have to admit but you never know, and in these current days of ‘people power’ and getting your voice heard, now is the time to speak out. Look at the wonderful Joanna Lumley and the well deserved victory she has achieved for the Gurkhas.

Maybe if we all keep speaking out about HIV someone somewhere will listen.

What do you think of my new boyfriend?

 

 

 

My New Boyfriend!

My New Boyfriend!

 

 

Speaking Up!

speaking up

On behalf of all positive women we are proud to announce that Silvia Petretti HIV Activist and founder of POZ-FEM UK  has been elected to be a member on the programme Committee for the next International AIDS Conference  in Vienna in 2010. We can rest assured that Silvia will do all in her power to bring issues affecting positive women in the UK to the forefront and work tirelessly on our behalf as she has been doing for many years.

So well done Silvia and keep up the good work.

In the run up to the conference Silvia has started a blog where you can keep up with the latest updates and also find information about HIV as well as post your own comments and experiences which she would welcome.

You can find Silvia’s Speak up blog at –

htpp:www.hivpolicyspeakup.wordpress.com

or click on the link, HIV Policy -Silvia’s Speaking Up ! on the blogoll.

London’s Burning

londons burning square last (2)

I have just returned from the great metropolis of London where along with an amazing and diverse group of other positive men and women we underwent training to be part of The People Living with HIV Stigma Index: UK Initiative 2009. This is a new and exciting research and advocacy initiative that is by and for people living with HIV and which will generate evidence that can better inform and improve policy and practice to address HIV related stigma in the UK. I certainly believe that by reducing stigma we can be one step nearer in our fight against HIV/AIDS and it is one of the foremost hurdles to overcome – that is why I continue to speak out and also why I write this blog.

The training was very intense and it was great to be with other positive people from all over the UK and from all walks of life who are totally committed to the cause of reducing stigma. The hotel some of us were staying in was close to Tower Bridge an area steeped with history and tradition, so I arrived early the day before the training was due to commence in order to do some sightseeing. Aside from the intense training there was also quite a lot of intense bonding and social activity going on and on the second night a few of us decided to venture out of the hotel for dinner. We wandered along Tower Bridge Road looking for a cheap eating establishment, but what with Veritee’s leg problems and pink flowered stick, my wonky hip and poor Sue’s ‘nueropathetic’ feet caused by the meds, we weren’t able to venture very far. Obviously money as always was the deciding factor so our first stop was a handy Wetherspoons pub, only to find they’d run out of everything including bread. The vacant looking bloke behind the bar who possessed little or no English shook his uncomprehending head as we tried to place our orders.

“No cheeps.”

“No chips?” unbelievable, we looked at each other aghast, “Jacket potatoes?

“No jackeets”

“What no spuds in any shape or form?”

“Que?”

“Garlic bread then?”

“No breed.”

What kind of joint was this – no cheeps, no jackets, no breed – maybe he was referring to us and Wetherspoons had suddenly adopted a smart dress code, but although we weren’t exactly wearing jackeets as such, we were hardly dishevelled looking, even if we had become slightly unruly by this time being deprived of our national staple diet of carbohydrates. Before we were physically evicted we marched out of our own accord, on our dignity, with Veritee waving her pink flowered stick and crossed the death defying road to an Italian restaurant, which looked decidedly scruffy from the outside but in this case appearances were deceptive, because inside it was immaculate. Glasses sparkled on the starched white tablecloths; attentive not to mention handsome Italian waiters adorned in silk waistcoats hovered at our elbows eager to attend to our every need. The owner informed us that normally we would need a reservation but tonight we were in luck as he could squeeze us lovely ladies in. And it was true, we congratulated ourselves, we were indeed in luck because the homemade pasta was delicious and so was the house wine, which we made very short work of, and we were nattering away, as you do, when an ominous smell of burning became embarrassingly evident in our direct vicinity.

“Can anyone smell burning,” I looked around. “Must be coming from the kitchen,” we decided and carried on nattering. But the smell was getting stronger and stronger and it was then that we noticed that Veritee’s huge linen napkin was on fire – and not only on fire but ablaze with magnificent blue and orange flames. Completely unphased Veritee grabbed what was now the huge ball of fire and extinguished it with her bare hands and carried on talking. At least we thought she’d extinguished it, but it must have been a good half an hour later when the owner, who was now heralding in group of very posh customers to their table, which was right next to ours, began wafting his refined Italian nose around and sniffing the air over our heads like the Bisto kid in that old Bisto advert, trying to identify where the odious smell was coming from.

The odious smell was in fact issuing from Veritee’s huge handbag under the table where the smouldering napkin had decided to relight itself, like one of those birthday candles that refuses to go out and was now in immediate danger of setting fire to the tablecloth, if not the whole restaurant and rewriting history by setting off the next Great Fire of London. Veritee quickly skulked past the owner clutching her smouldering bag to the downstairs loo where she got rid of the incendiary evidence in a sanitary towel disposal bin. We refrained from ordering desserts and quickly took our leave. Apparently the major conflagration of 1666 started at a bakery in Pudding Lane so maybe it’s a good job we left before ordering a pud  before the place burnt down. Talk about London’s burning – call the engines – call the engines – fire fire – fire fire – pour on water – pour on water.

Didn’t hear anything about any Italian restaurants burning down on the local news but did hear that the lift in Tower Bridge, the one I almost went in the day before on my sight seeing trip, had suddenly plummeted to the ground injuring quite a few Spanish tourists who were left with broken legs and ankles. I suggested we all took a ride on the Ghost Bus the next night, but everyone was too knackered after the training and in view of what happened to the lift, maybe it was a good thing – although we could have become ghost-bus-ters.

I was actually sorry when the training came to an end and we were all reluctantly forced to say goodbye. We decided we would stay in touch by forming a group on Face Book. Some names were bandied around and Mark came up with ‘Riddled’ as in riddled with it, which then became ‘Stiggled’ to incorporate the word stigma.

I didn’t want to get off the Virgin train and return to the problems of my day to day and family life. I wanted to ride around forever passing through town to town like some kind of ghost train as opposed to ghost bus. Anyway, my feet were killing me after all that walking which made me think me in regard to the old women’s lib joke of why should there be more women train drivers – a woman’s right to choo choose, that it could be adapted considering my aching feet to shoe shoes, or choo choos in relation to Jimmy Choo.

There was a nice man sitting opposite me on the train and I started fantasising about how comforting it would be to have someone like that to come home to – a safe, respectable man with a good job who would look after me, love me even. Most people with HIV I have noted, including me, are desperately lonely and would love a significant other who would accept us for what and who we are and not reject us because of what we have. One of the African girls on the training course mentioned that she would like to marry a British farmer. I have heard this (I won’t say burning in lieu of the flaming napkin episode) desire expressed before from one of the African ladies in my ‘hivine’ group and I have rather optimistically promised to try to find her one. I do believe there is a website with farmers looking for wives, a bit like the old nursery rhyme- the farmer wants a wife, eee eye addy oh the farmer wants a wife, but I have yet to check it out.

Maybe I should start a dating agency here on my website I offered, farmers or otherwise. Sue suggested that as my surname is Seed I should call it seedydating.com. So watch this space, although the seedy reference might encourage gardeners as well as farmers. Oh well, the more the merrier as long as it doesn’t encourage seedy types of a more deviant nature.

The classic moment of the training and the whole weekend for me, apart from Veritee nearly causing the next major conflagration of London, was when she suggested to the woman from the Ministry of Health who was giving us a PowerPoint presentation on the rising statistics of HIV and offering up the advice that if people were concerned that they might be positive they should go for a test, asked her outright if she’d ever had one and if not she should. You should have seen her face. I added that people should go for a test even if they didn’t think they were positive. It was interesting to note that the oldest people in our training group had all nearly died from undiagnosed HIV – so hiviners take note. If you are in doubt and even if you are not – don’t be put off by the stigma associated with taking an HIV test. Fighting HIV related stigma is what this blog and what the research project we are about to embark upon is all about.

I am trying to calm myself after having had a very heated argument, which once again reverts back to stigma, about counsellors who are HIV positive not being able to counsel another person with HIV because their own issues would get in the way. To me that is like saying that a gay person cannot counsel another gay person, or a person who has cancer cannot counsel a person who also has cancer. I would really appreciate other people’s thoughts on this issue or am I alone in thinking that it takes one to know one.

This Little Piggy

pig-square

Oh dear, the poor pig must be the most unpopular animal to ever have walked its trotters on God’s earth at the moment as the world stockpiles huge mountains of anti-virals and grits its metaphorical teeth in preparation for the swine flu pandemic. I don’t suppose then, in that case, folk will be queuing up to take out the latest Pinky and Perky DVD, who have just made their long awaited comeback with, “License to Swill.” Or even letting their children gather round their plasma television screens to watch the old family favourite and time honoured classic, “Babe” in case they catch something.

Mothers around the world will no longer be playing with their baby’s toe toes and crooning ‘this little piggy went to market’ – or in the case of the more modern and upmarket mother, “This Little Piggy went to Prada.” This book by Amy Allen of updated nursery rhymes is described as the new must have for yummy mummy’s and features variations on the old classic rhymes such as, “There was an old woman who lived in her Choos.”

I dread to think what she got to rhyme with hickory dickory dock, or what her version of wee wee wee all the way home makes reference to – Tena lady pads perhaps or incontinence knickers.

In my case, as I am long past the stage of playing with my baby’s toe toes as he is twenty nine, or anyone’s toe toes for that matter, it will definitely be a case of this little piggy stayed at home, as we are all advised to stay indoors and indulge in as little human contact as possible – although, as a positive person I am well accustomed to that. I’m getting worried though that all this advice about avoiding physical contact with people in case they are infected with a dreaded lurgy will start off all the paranoia about touching or having close contact with people with HIV again.

Swine flu is such a horrible name for an illness. Imagine telling people you had swine flu. It would be almost as bad as telling people you’ve got HIV. No one wants to be associated with a pig and some people it has to be said don’t want to be associated with people who have HIV. Although throughout the ages pigs have often featured as popular icons, such as Miss Piggy for example from the Muppets. Whatever happened to her? I remember munching on sugar pigs as a child which apparently are still available in some sweet shop outlets or alternatively you can buy them online, although I wouldn’t think business will be going to well in the current climate.

There’s an old saying, pigs sweat, women glow and men perspire, although there is some dispute as to whether pigs do in fact sweat, however I wouldn’t think anyone in their right mind would want to get close enough to one right now to discover whether they do or not.

In some ways people with HIV have a lot in common with today’s pig, if positive people who are reading this will forgive me for saying, as quite often non positive people don’t want know us, or hear what we say, which begs the question – If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

To make up for this irreverent take on the swine flu pandemic I will now add a recent update from the CDC with some serious advice for positive people.

 

Interim CDC Guidance

HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents: Considerations for Clinicians Regarding Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) Virus

April 30, 2009

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued the following interim guidance entitled, “HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents: Considerations for Clinicians Regarding Swine-Origin Influenza A (H1N1) Virus. The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) is circulating the CDC’s interim guidance as a service to our global membership.

Background

Human infections with a swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus that is transmissible among humans were first identified in April 2009 with cases in the United States and Mexico. The epidemiology and clinical presentations of these infections are currently under investigation. There are insufficient data available at this point to determine who is at higher risk for complications of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus infection. However, adults and adolescents with HIV infection, especially persons with low CD4 cell counts, are known to be at higher risk for viral and bacterial lower respiratory tract infections and for recurrent pneumonias.

Evidence that influenza can be more severe for HIV-infected adults and adolescents comes from studies among HIV-infected persons who had seasonal influenza; these data are limited. However, several studies have reported higher hospitalization rates, prolonged illness and increased mortality, especially among persons with AIDS. Thus, immune compromised persons, including HIV-infected adults and adolescents and especially persons with low CD4 cell counts or AIDS can experience more severe complications of seasonal influenza and it is possible that HIV-infected adults and adolescents are also at higher risk for swine-origin influenza complications.

Clinical presentation

HIV-infected adults and adolescents with swine-origin influenza would be expected to present with typical acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, sore throat, rhinorrhea) and fever or feverishness, headache, and muscle aches. For some HIV-infected persons, especially persons with low CD4 cell counts, illness might progress rapidly, and might be complicated by secondary bacterial infections including pneumonia. HIV-infected persons who have suspected swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus infection should be tested (see Guidance on Specimen Collection), and specimens from HIV-infected persons who have unsubtypeable influenza A virus infections should be sent to the state public health laboratory for additional testing to identify swine-origin influenza A (H1N1).

Persons with HIV infection should remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of influenza, as outlined above. Persons with HIV infection who are concerned that they might be experiencing signs or symptoms of influenza infection, or who are concerned they might have been exposed to a confirmed, probable or suspected case of influenza infection, either seasonal influenza or swine-origin influenza A (H1N1), should consult their healthcare provider to assess the need for evaluation and for possible anti-influenza treatment or prophylaxis.

Treatment and chemoprophylaxis

The currently circulating swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus is sensitive to the neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications zanamivir and oseltamivir, but is resistant to the adamantane antiviral medications, amantadine and rimantadine. HIV-infected adults and adolescents who meet current case-definitions for confirmed, probable or suspected swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) infection (see Guidance on Case Definitions) should receive empiric antiviral treatment. HIV-infected adults and adolescents who are close contacts of persons with probable or confirmed cases of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) should receive antiviral chemoprophylaxis. Antiviral chemoprophylaxis with either oseltamivir or zanamivir can be considered for HIV-infected persons who are household close contacts of a suspected case.

These recommendations for treatment and chemoprophylaxis are the same ones used for others who are at higher risk of complications from influenza. As is recommended for other persons who are treated, antiviral treatment with zanamivir or oseltamivir should be initiated as soon as possible after the onset of influenza symptoms, with benefits expected to be greatest if started within 48 hours of onset based on data from studies of seasonal influenza. However, some data from studies on seasonal influenza indicate benefit for hospitalized patients even if treatment is started more than 48 hours after onset.

Recommended duration of treatment is five days. Recommended duration of prophylaxis is 10 days after last exposure. Oseltamivir and zanamivir treatment and chemoprophylaxis regimens recommended for HIV-infected persons are the same as those recommended for adults who have seasonal influenza. Clinicians should monitor treated patients closely and consider the need to extend therapy based on the course of illness. Recommendations for use of influenza antivirals for HIV-infected adults and adolescents might change as additional data on the benefits and risks of antiviral therapy in such persons become available.

No adverse effects have been reported among HIV-infected adults and adolescents who received oseltamivir or zanamivir. There are no known absolute contraindications for co-administration of oseltamivir or zanamivir with currently available antiretroviral medications.

Other ways to reduce risk for HIV-infected adults and adolescents

There is no vaccine available yet to prevent swine-origin influenza A (H1N1).

The risk for swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) might be reduced by taking steps to limit possible exposures to persons with respiratory infections. These actions include frequent handwashing, covering coughs, and having ill persons stay home, except to seek medical care, and minimize contact with others in the household who may be ill with swine-origin influenza virus. Additional measures that can limit transmission of a new influenza strain include voluntary home quarantine of members of households with confirmed or probable swine influenza cases, reduction of unnecessary social contacts, and avoidance whenever possible of crowded settings. If used correctly, facemasks and respirators may help reduce the risk of getting influenza, but they should be used along with other preventive measures, such as avoiding close contact and maintaining good hand hygiene. A respirator that fits snugly on the face can filter out small particles that can be inhaled around the edges of a facemask, but compared with a facemask it is harder to breathe through a respirator for long periods of time. Interim guidances regarding means to decrease the risk of getting swine-origin influenza virus are available. These guidances will be updated as more information becomes available, including information on the risk of swine-origin influenza-related complications among HIV-infected adults and adolescents.

Patients should be reminded of the importance of maintaining their health as a means of reducing their risk of infection with influenza and improving their immune system’s ability to fight an infection should it occur. In particular, patients who are currently taking anti-retrovirals or antimicrobial prophylaxis against opportunistic infections should be reminded of the importance of adhering to their prescribed treatment.