Susan, age 62 / Melbourne, Australia


By the end of ’99, I’d really been living with HIV for over a decade – my health was going downhill rapidly. I was doing a PhD thesis. I was telling people, check the hard drive in case I die, check the hard drive. Everyone was saying, go on the medication, Susan. I saw all of my gay boyfriends going on protease inhibitors, and they were having projectile vomiting, projectile diarrhea. And I was really afraid of the drugs.

Eventually, I only had 50 CD4, my viral load was 4 million, my hair was falling out, I couldn’t really walk very far. And I took the antiretroviral meds, and within two weeks these toxic drugs, they were miracle workers. I survived. I’m now a gray-haired woman, and I never believed I would have this quality of life at this part of my life. So, I’ve really embraced my toxic drugs and thank them very much for my life.