by Phillip L. Murphy
This note first appeared on a Facebook page. It is republished here with the author’s permission.
After speaking with Shannon, we decided it would be beneficial to those interested in Kim’s history to hear my own personal story.
I was diagnosed with HIV in the fall of 1984. It was my final year of undergraduate work at KU, and i was deciding whether to attend medical school. after receiving the news in a very seedy sedgwick county health department office, I was terrified, horrified and in shock. I had been in a monogomous relationship with a man for almost a year. He began to hear rumors that a man he had dated previously was “sick”. After his test results came back positive, it was my turn. Neither of us knew what to do or where to turn. In those days there was talk of quaranteening the infected in asylums or deserted islands. We were a pariahs, angels of death. From that moment on we couldn’t plan for our futures or make decisions beyond what was for dinner because we expected to drop dead at any moment. That is what was happening to those in our situation.
Randy became ill quite quickly, and had no choice but to begin the hellish drug treatments that were available at the time. I on the other hand was more fortunate in that my health remained good for more than a decade. During that time I watched as friend after friend fell from opportunistic diseases that a compromised immune system could not fight off. I felt like i had no future and just kinda twittled my life away, waiting for the end. Randy died about 4 years later, and I was alone; I thought for the rest of my short life. I saw an HIV specialist regularly. He gave me the option of going on antivirals, or waiting until i was truly sick to start. On his advice I waited and waited. In 1995 my T-cells began to plummet, and we decided it was time. New, more promising therapies were on the market, and he had every hope we could keep the virus in check. I continued with my regular check-ups and my T-cells and my overall health improved. Soon i almost forgot that i was sick. I began to have hope that maybe i could beat this, maybe I’d be the first.
After about a year of therapy, and a normal T-cell count, we decided to get off the drug therapy. They are harsh, complicated and overwhelmingly expensive. Within 6 months my T-cells were once again at an alarmingly low level and I went onto a new drug regimen that I remain on to this day, and will for the rest of my life. My T-cells remain in the normal range, I have an undetectable <0 number of virus in my blood, and remain healthy, at least physically (LOL).
I WANT EVERYONE TO READ AND UNDERSTAND. THE HIV VIRUS AND THE CONDITION CALLED AIDS IS VERY REAL, AND VERY TREATABLE.
Until i returned to Wichita in 2002 to try and save my baby sister Tricia, and re-met Kim, I had never heard of these lie-mongering denyers. Knowing Kim as a strong-willed, highly intelligent young woman, I thought it odd that Kim was so influenced by them, but I know we each have our own path. The lies they concocted, then spewed to the public is the one and only reason Kim is where she is today. PLEASE, PLEASE don’t let these lies continue to hurt and kill the ones you love and care about. Stomp the lies and the people that perpetuate them into the dirt.
Today I am in a loving and healthy relationship with the love of my life and soul-mate Mando. After nearly 16 years together he is still HIV-negative and that is because of the care of great physicians and incredible advancements in HIV therapies. My life hasn’t turned out exactly how i had planned, but I have played the cards I was dealt as best I could and so far I am winning the hand.
Please feel free to contact me about what I have said. If you have any questions I will be glad to answer, or find the answers for you. And again, if you can find the time to stop and say hi to Kim, you’ll feel better for doing it. She is still a loving, caring, and generous spirit, even if she is trapped inside an unhealthy body.
My best love to all of you.
P.S. Forgive the typos, Mrs. Cates really did teach me better than this.