From the Trenches and Back: This is My Story

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July 17 2013

A lot has happened in the year-and-a-half during which AIDS Research Alliance has partnered with Shop & Support Company, We-Care. In the spring of 2012, we began to promote their online Shop & Support application to our audience, something that allows all of us to support HIV cure research every time we shop online, without spending an extra penny. In December, We-Care chose ARA as its Cause of the Month. Through this partnership, ARA received over $38,000. Given this fruitful partnership, when We-Care announced that it was running a video competition, ARA submitted a video. The below story is that of one of our valued volunteers, who was featured in the video. We hope his story inspires you as it does us.

My name is John-Paul Valdez, and I am HIV positive.

When I was first diagnosed with HIV, there was only one available anti-HIV drug and almost no clinical trials being offered. My doctors advised me to “get my affairs in order” because my T-cell count was so low that I had developed nearly a dozen different opportunistic infections.

Living with AIDS took the obvious toll on my body. I lost half of my body weight. I developed huge Kaposi Sarcoma lesions all over my body. The subcutaneous chemotherapy and radiotherapy that the doctors prescribed left me in pain, without much real improvement.

Later, when I started medication, I became affected by lipodystrophy, where body fat from the face, legs and arms is transferred to the abdomen, and along the upper back.

While researching online, I discovered a clinical study at AIDS Research Alliance to counter the effects of lipodystrophy. There was one space left to participate in the study, and I got it. I felt like I had won the lottery.

I drove 2 hours each way from my home in Palm Springs to the ARA offices in Los Angeles to participate in the trial. It was worth it. The drugs worked. My body repaired. I regained the hope that I had lost in the face of AIDS.

AIDS Research Alliance gave me access to drugs that otherwise would not have been available to me. AIDS Research Alliance made the seemingly impossible – a cure for my condition – possible.

I credit AIDS Research Alliance with my health and wellbeing.

I am alive today because of AIDS Research Alliance.

Have you downloaded the We-Care Shop & Support application? Download it today, and every time you shop online, you will move the world closer to a cure for HIV/AIDS.

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