Living a Healthy Life with HIV
by Allison R. Webel, RN, PhD, Lorig, et al.
Reviewed by Hank Trout
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]all me “jaded.” Having read a plethora of self-help books, I tend to approach them now with great skepticism and low expectations. Most self-help books I’ve read were, regretfully, quite useless—mired down in insular New-Age-y lingo and painfully meaningless psycho-babble.
Not so the new fourth edition of Living a Healthy Life with HIV, a truly valuable reference book written in plain, readily accessible language and containing genuinely useable techniques. The writers—a team of physicians and researchers at Stanford University and elsewhere—have compiled very practical and practicable tips, ideas, and resources for successfully managing HIV as a chronic disease, culled from their own research, the current care guidelines promulgated by the CDC, and the experiences of women and men who have actually used these techniques to self-manage their own HIV.
The writers recommend reading the first two chapters of the book (an overview of “self-managing” HIV and forming an action plan) and then referring to subsequent chapters for specific advice and strategies. Thus, I read the first two chapters and then turned to the sections on issues I face: fatigue, aging with HIV, and sleep problems. In each section, the suggestions are concrete, easily understood, and actually do-able. The book also addresses managing medications and their side-effects, eating healthily, exercising, making treatment decisions, and talking with family and friends about your diagnosis.
Usually, when I’ve finished reading a self-help book, I’ve passed it along to others or donated it to the library, knowing that I would never use it again. Not Living a Healthy Life with HIV—this one gets a permanent place of prominence on my bookshelf. If you are living with HIV, it should be on yours also.
Hank Trout edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. His published writing has ranged from gay “smut” (his term!) to literary criticism of William Blake. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a thirty-five-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. He read two of his pieces at the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco in June of last year.