As the moment of levity passed, his smile faded because I wanted to know why he'd chosen to use a fictional HBO character as a next of kin in an official health record. I knew his silence meant he was still struggling with his diagnosis and worse, he probably hadn't told anyone.
Alex and the other patients who took the time to speak with me said that they all requested to be called by their first name only, but that when they were called, their full names were used regardless of their expressed wishes.
On Friday, I have the honor of moderating an incredible panel discussion on the progress that has been made to understand AIDS, how that was accomplished, and what it will take to finally end the AIDS epidemic.
Think about those who are living with HIV and cannot access the life-saving medications that are freely available in richer countries. This is surely what will happen more often if we don't keep our promise to get people living with HIV onto medications and keep them in treatment.
In my upcoming book, The AIDS Generation, I share the life stories of 15 remarkable gay men who bravely navigated the pioneering days of the AIDS epidemic, a time when many of us had very limited understandings of the disease and few viable options for fighting the virus.
To be functionally cured means that after a few years of treatment, someone could theoretically stop their medication. Although HIV would still be found in the DNA of their cells, it would not reproduce, circulate in the blood and bodily fluids, and destroy the immune system.
Though I have remained HIV negative, the virus is, and continues to be, a part of who I am. I'm a registered nurse working in clinical trials in hopes of finding a cure for HIV. Yes, I said the "C" word. It's controversial and politically charged, but that's how revolutions begin.
Our country and our community need to create an environment where people with HIV can freely disclose our HIV status in a fashion that is appropriate for us and without fear of discrimination, stigma or reprisal.
Advancements in HIV treatment can eliminate the threat of dying from AIDS but the community psyche is trapped in the past. In 2013 no one has to develop or die of AIDS. Why aren't we getting this message?
The holiday season is a time to reflect on and cherish our relationships with family, friends, and others that we see every day. But for thousands of HIV patients in Los Angeles, this holiday season will mean the loss of the critical relationship they have with their local specialty pharmacist.
The stigma associated with HIV is only partially to blame. More problematic is the difficulty of reaching the most vulnerable members of the U.S. population who are living with HIV but unaware of their status: racial and ethnic minorities, the poor and disenfranchised, and people who are homeless.
Last week UNAIDS released two reports -- its annual World AIDS Day report "Results" and the bi-annual "Global Report on the AIDS Epidemic." Both reports have one message: The pace of progress is unprecedented.
Last year, we celebrated 30 years of progress in the fight against AIDS. This year, let's celebrate World AIDS Day by looking forward. We've challenged ourselves by setting an ambitious goal of an AIDS-free generation. Let's examine where we are on our way to that goal.
How shall we live, knowing the time of youthful athletic prowess is brief, knowing, as HIV/AIDS reminds us, that life is fragile, precious and short? For me, in my life, with my time, I choose not to be a victim.