David, age 61 / Melbourne, Australia


I’ve really had a lot of AIDS-defining illnesses in the ‘90s, some of which I’ve lived with since. I’ve developed diabetes, and, as a consequence, probably accelerated by my use of the drug Tenofovir, I’ve developed some renal disease. It’s okay, but it needs to be watched. I had excessive HIV wasting in the ‘80s, partly from the drugs, partly from the virus – a drug called AZT, of course.

And what that did to me was, um, I couldn’t get the muscle back. I’ve been going to gym. I have personal trainers. I go to swimming. And I can’t get the muscle back. I had a knee operation, because of all that pressure that wasting had put on my knee over the years – it meant I needed to have a new knee. And now I’m told I need a new ankle.

So, HIV has played a role in that. Okay, I’m 61. I probably would’ve needed a new knee if I didn’t have HIV. Who knows? But I do think it’s accelerated the inflammation that would cause those problems. I would’ve thought two years ago, I was a pretty robust person with HIV, despite having a lot of chronic complaints and having to see a lot of doctors.

I live a medicalized condition, but… It’s only when I started to feel the pain associated with my leg and my ankle – and now my mobility problems – that I feel a bit weak. And I can see there is a line people cross when they actually become frail. And I’ve seen it in so many of my friends, and it’s when they really do need care. They need support. They often need daily support. I sort of feel I’m tipping over the edge a little bit towards frailty. And I’m trying desperately to go back the other side of that line.