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My t-cells could use a facelift.

Can I still complain about getting older if I was supposed to be dead twenty years ago? That’s the dilemma of aging HIV positive guys like me. Feeling victorious over AIDS only takes your self esteem so far; there’s no HIV medication to fight wrinkles.

Butt Pad GrabOh wait, there is. I had facial injections last year (and showed you the process) to alleviate moderate facial wasting, and it fixed me right up. Then I got padded butt shorts for those occasions I wear my beloved 501’s and I want to feel more confident. And let’s not forget the testosterone my doctor prescribed years ago that has kept a youthful bounce in my step ever since. If this is all strictly for HIV treatment, Joan Rivers is a long term AIDS survivor.

Last year I created a video posting about the battle between my gratitude for aging and my vanity, and I’ll admit it might be the funniest five minutes on my site. As my 50th birthday draws nearer, it’s a good time to give it another look. I discuss bars, boys, butt pads and Donny Osmond — something for everyone! Consider it the re-edited, younger looking Director’s Cut of a golden oldie.

Meantime, “Aging and HIV” appears to be the hot topic of the day. Conferences and workshops of the topic abound, and as the patient population considers their unexpected Golden Years, concerns about the long term effects of HIV infection and the impact of decades of medications are increasing. And then there’s the emotional implications.

HIV and Aging Book“Aging is a challenge for all of us. But, for gay men living with HIV it is even more complex,” says Dr. James Masten, author of the upcoming book Aging with HIV: A Gay Man’s Guide. “This war has utilized all their emotional resources and few have had the time to consider the challenge of aging.”

Well, not so fast. I make time to obsess about aging. But please continue, doctor.

“Research has found higher rates of depression, lack of social support, and reduced quality of life among middle aged and older people living with HIV. Adapting to aging with HIV can become complicated when emotional issues such as HIV-stigma, internalized ageism, unresolved grief, or survivor guilt impact one’s ability to care for oneself fully in the present.”

So I suppose I should live in the present and stop posting videos I made over a year ago. Seriously, these issues have the ring of the same emotional minefields I’ve been navigating for the last twenty years. But I’ll check out his book for any tips he might have on advanced age. And avoiding jowls.

Meanwhile, research on HIV and aging is being released left and right. The sum of this research seems to suggest that we’ll be more frail in our older age, have a tendency for more loss of bone density than the average person, and about twice as likely to have cognitive issues.

You can check the links yourself, but the news is a lot better than I would have guessed. I had expected people with HIV/AIDS to be waiting en masse for liver transplants by now. Remember, too, that people with HIV/AIDS are more likely to smoke, to have a drug abuse history, multiple sexual partners and other STD’s… basically, as a group we’re Heavy Metal Bad. The fact research suggests we’re more likely to be frail or forget our own phone number makes perfect sense to me.

So, take your vitamins, stay active and get a bone density check. Then kick back and listen to some vintage Donny Osmond or watch the old man win the mirrored ball on Dancing with the Stars!



By | 2011-11-04T07:21:23+00:00 November 11th, 2010|Gay Life, Living with HIV/AIDS, My Fabulous Disease|10 Comments


  1. Sylvia G. McIntyre November 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    i think this was a very good article and it has inspired me enough to make me to keep on doing what i’m doing in helping persons living or affected by this disease. i am going to keep on sharing what you do and hopefully order some of your material for our organization. thank you for who you are keep on sharing God bless you

  2. Sue November 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Too true!

  3. Stephen Thompson November 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you for this great blog. I will be 60 this month and will have had HIV since 1987 and AIDS since 1993. It was a virtual death sentence back then. Now I have to live with it and the ravages of time, and as you point out, we are expected to do it with grace. Well, that is not happening with me so far. The medical establishment has decided that I don’t need T even though I have ED. My ID doc does not believe in B12 shots, even though what is left of my ass is dragging on the floor. All I have done for the last 23 years is worry about how to get the care I need and convince the pricks in white knee length jackets that I could use some TLC here. I don’t think I can get back to NORMAL anymore from here, if ever there was a normal.

  4. Paul G. Overstreet November 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I like your video. We might age faster but I was told our lifespan is shorter compare to the HIV has infected our immune system. I know as the medication becomes safer to our liver there will be a better incurable med that is not formulated to be completely safe.

  5. Ann-Marie LeBlanc November 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Oh, Mark, Mark, Mark, still arguing with yourself. I was so hoping you would outgrow that! But, the great thing about that is – YOU always win the argument! Cool. By the way, who are the babies in framed photos on the wall? Is that the “picture of Dorian Gray”? Love,love,love you. Ann-Marie

    (The photos, you ‘ol Eagle Eye, are of me taking a bath in the sink, and another of my brother David and I. — Mark)

  6. Rede Positivo - Portugal November 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Very funny and all true Mark! Though it’s been hard to cope with stigma, with medications, and nowadays we get to know that we’re moving faster to… get older! Shame on us… It’s a never ending story, still the story of a survivor is to expect life to kick back and to keep head over heels… a bigger bum would help more to sit, but a lesser brain would worry me more ;-)) Thanks dear Mark for your glorious sense of humor 😉 Luís Sá

  7. Danny Miller November 14, 2010 at 1:15 am

    I Totally feel your Pain Mark!! I had botox don on my face for my 30th birthday, I have always joked, but in a very serious wau that as long as there is Miss Claroil and plastic surgery I will be young and beautiful forever!!

  8. jeremy November 24, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I saw my HIV doc a few days ago, and we had a chat about men’s issues, I’ve never been too self conscious about growing older. I kind of take it all in stride in sobriety. From my numbers you’d never know I was poz. But protease inhibitors have not been kind to me.

    I wonder if poz men in recovery have a different perspective on growing older? Vanity went out the window a long long time ago for me, so I really don’t worry about those things. Except for a little hair coloring here and there.

    45 is just around the corner for me. I have a different take on growing older in sobriety at 9 years in December. I don’t know if I need to waste my money on some book that is gonna type cast me like everyone else?

    I think we are all aging according to what AIDS has done to us and we all deal with different issues but we come from the same thread so to speak. Maybe we should visit this topic again when the book comes out and we have read it, I would like to know how other poz men are dealing with aging.


  9. Tim Evans February 23, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Loved it. Proof that a sense of humour about ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in can be a valuable tool.
    Like yourself and many other men, I have been living with HIV for 25 years and am in recovery. What I find most valuable about your blog Mark, is simply the humour and the sheer bloody mindedness of your approach to the challenges this life brings.
    I’m 43 years old, I work in healthcare and am also doing another university degree in my life love Marine biology just for the hell of it. My point being, I refuse to let my life be defined by those ‘negative’ events and choose to look forward to getting old big butt or not!
    keep doing what you do Mark…it’s awesome.
    Tim Evans
    London, UK

  10. David Phillips December 5, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Oh, Mark! Do you have a bumper sticker that reads “Does this virus make my ass look big?!”

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