It took about seven different regimens to find the one that would work for me," said Carl.
Retroviral medications keep 48-year-old Dwayne Carl's white T cells in check.
When he was diagnosed in 2001, AIDS had already ravaged his body.
"By this time I had lost a lot of weight," said Carl. "I started to see lesions form on my body. I was having a cranial bleed which was called MAC (mycobacterium avium complex) that I later I found out was hemorrhaging, what was causing me to have severe headaches."
Carl doesn't blame AIDS for nearly killing him; he blames years of denial, and the shame of being labeled HIV Positive.
About 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with HIV or aids every year. The numbers remain steady even though we know how the disease is spread.
"For 14 years or this span of time, I did not get tested even though I knew I was sexually active out there in the community," said Carl. "If I had been tested and had that early prevention or early detection to know, I would never have fallen into that illness, the way I was, so close to death and it was horrible."
"Out of my second closet" is Dwayne's AIDS Survival story.
With thousands of Americans newly diagnosed each month, Dwayne says there's one important question we should always ask: What's your sign? Positive or negative?"
"This is how I tell people to do it, ask them what their sign is. They're going to think Aries, Pisces. 'No what's your sign? Are you positive or negative?' And that will break the ice, it's cute, it's fun. It puts a little dialogue into that because we have to worry about our health," said Carl.
Thanks to various anti-HIV cocktail of drugs, Dwayne's immune system has stabilized.
Today, he's a client, volunteer and mentor at AIDS Project Los Angeles and he's living with Aids.
The agency's mission is to provide resources, education, and services to people with AIDS and HIV. It also gives survivors like Dwayne a voice. At this Sunday's Aids Walk LA, Dwayne will be an opening speaker.
"We have to break it down and if we can, we'll see that people will get tested and people won't feel fear," said Carl.
This is a human issue and we need to all be on board to eradicate stigma.
If you want to support Dwayne and others on behalf of Aids Project Los Angeles, you can take part in the Aids Walk Los Angeles Sunday, Oct. 14th. It starts and ends at West Hollywood Park.
You can register by calling (213) 201-WALK or by visiting aidswalk.net.