(this letter has been edited for clarity)
To Joan Shenton
I live in Warsaw, Poland. In 1989, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. I have had only one Western blot test done – just like many others I know – in May 1989. For roughly the first 10 years I had hardly been taking ART; a physician prescribed me Retrovir in 1991 but I stopped using that after a few months because it was stealing my energy. In 1998, I had about 380 CD4 cells and 80000 copies of viral load so I returned to ART. I stopped after 6 months, mostly because of side effects of pain and heaviness in my legs, which I sought medical help for.
In 2004, I was diagnosed with AIDS. I had pneumonia following a severe cold, shingles, and a misdiagnosis of spinal cord degeneration for a spinal column issue.
I’ve visited A&E and received two injections of Pavulon, one of which severely affected my nerves. I had a fever, which indicated functional immunity. For two weeks, I had not been taking ART, which I had resumed, and my critical health problems disappeared.
My left leg was still paining me and I was almost paralysed. I was told that I wouldn’t walk any more and only had 5 years to live because of my spinal condition.
I spent 2 months in hospital before being moved to my parents’ house. That December, I started to receive basic physiotherapy, which helped me to walk after 2 months, but my overall leg problems did not cease until manual spinal column therapy.
I had been taking a multitude of ART, causing lipoatrophy and severe weight loss.
My body was like that of a Nazi-camp prisoner and I experienced severe mental issues, affecting my decision-making and mood. Alternative medicines helped.
Around 2008, I started taking Chinese Reishi mushrooms and my immunology result improved very much, despite a still low CD4 count. But Reishi mushrooms have been hard to source in Poland.
I can’t take Retrovir anymore, partly due to muscle loss; I slowly weaned myself off. I have immunology exams every 3 months and I can see that declining Retrovir for Reishi mushrooms has had a positive effect. I’ve recorded about 500 CD4 and 900 CD8 cells. I’ve also begun weaning myself off my other ARVs. Quality Reishi mushrooms are my primary therapy. I recommend them for any major illness.
In my last exam after stopping Retrovir and reducing other ART a year ago, I’ve recorded 624 in CD4, almost 1300 CD8 and 1993 in CD3.
Thank you for your work, honesty, will and determination. You and the Rethinking AIDS movement are doing great work.