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Thirty Years of HIV/AIDS: Perspective from Charlie W., a Veteran

for Health Care Providers

Perspective from Charlie W., a Veteran

During the last 30 years, the Veterans Administration has provided treatment services for HIV+ Veterans. I am writing this letter as a personal testimonial to the excellent care that I received from VA. It is a gift for which I am profoundly grateful.

I was diagnosed in 1986 and have received all my medical care from the VA Medical System since that time. I have other health concerns unrelated to HIV. However, I remain relatively healthy because of the excellent treatment I have received, which has mitigated the problems associated with my being HIV+. With antiviral medication provided by the VA, as well as continuous monitoring by my primary care physician, I have reduced my viral load to zero and maintained it at this level for many years. I continue to live a very active and highly productive life.

Participating in my own health care and being aware of the importance of my own attitude and actions has enabled me to live with this disease successfully. I have accepted the fact that, in order to maintain my health, I must follow certain rules. These include meticulous adherence to a specific health regimen, continuous monitoring, regular interaction with health care givers, and immediate treatment of symptoms. I have come to understand that if one is not willing to participate in his/her own care, then the quality of care does not make any difference. Thus, the excellent VA care--in conjunction with my personal initiative--has been a lifesaver for me.

I offer my thanks for the services that the VA system has provided me--and I know that the VA provides the same services to countless others throughout the country who are affected by this disease but who are fortunate to have the VA system for support and care.