Until the Cure
One Man’s Journey to Advocacy
by Alberto Pérez Bermúdez
I found out that I was HIV-positive in 1988, the year I turned eighteen. Living with HIV and now AIDS has affected my entire life.
I did not know what HIV was until I started to educate myself on everything that was related to HIV issues. Emotionally and physically, I began to change my life by taking on a new and positive direction. I reflected on my personal journey and dedicated myself to educating my community about HIV prevention and treatment issues. Wanting to be an HIV treatment educator—so I would know what I needed to do for myself and my HIV community—I went to many local and national AIDS conferences all over the U.S. Now, as a long term survivor, I can share what I know with everyone and I would like to share with you what I have done in my life.
First, as I said, I educated myself on HIV treatment issues so that I knew how HIV works in my body. Second, I started living a positive life, such as going to the gym and not using alcohol nor drugs. I always made sure I had good nutrition. Also, I am always a positive person and I do believe in God. I take my HIV medications on time, all the time, and I make my doctor’s appointments. I have always had the attitude that I wanted to live a positive, healthy life until there was a cure. For years my life has been a testament to the power of clean living, eternal optimism and dogged perseverance.
I have modified my life to do everything right so I do continually make positive changes. Eventually, I would like to help out others who are living with HIV like me. I believe anyone can learn from my personal experiences and the fact that I have done it so I can be a long-term survivor.
I am now enrolled in a clinical trial and it is going well. Alongside my regular regimen of Tivicay, one pill at 7 a.m.and one pill at 7 p.m., I am taking my clinical trial meds on the same schedule. I am part of a ViiV Healthcare study looking at attachment inhibitor comparison in heavily treatment-experienced patients. I will also take Trogarzo, an infusion therapy, every two weeks
I always have had a low CD4 count, 5 to 240, but now thanks to God and my clinical trial people the last one was 400. I was never undetectable for twenty-nine years, but now I have been undetectable for two years.
This is why I am doing this for people living with HIV. I will battle against the virus until there is a cure. You need to be positive in every way—mentally, emotionally,physically, and nutritionally. Also it is important to have your family members, friends and faith there for you. I will never quit on my life and I will have the same optimism and positivity as the foundation of my approach to living as a long term survivor of HIV. The last things that I would like to say to all of you that I’m just going to keep on living positively so that I will be in control of HIV and HIV doesn’t control me and my life.
Alberto Pérez Bermúdez is an HIV long-term survivor and advocate living in Miami, Florida..