For the first 10 years of his life, Hoss lived alone on a grass island in a shopping center. When a friend trapped/neutered/returned some feral cats living in the woods next to the shopping center, she also trapped Hoss and got him neutered. But she didn't return him because he was blind due to constant herpes infections, had no teeth and tested positive for FIV.
Instead of going back to the parking lot, Hoss came to live with me. For years, I gave him Liquid Immuno, a potent lysine supplement, and Interferon when his herpes flared. When he developed hyperthyroidism, the vet treated him with homeopathy because she thought traditional thyroid meds or a radio iodine treatment were too dangerous for a cat in such frail health.
Although he appeared frail to the vets, Hoss had a strong will to live, maybe to guide me. In the end, when he was probably well into his 20s, his body just shut down. He fell asleep in his favorite room, the kitchen, and didn't wake up.
I wish I knew then what I know now about FIV. I just wrote an article about FIV and learned so much. I now know what I always suspected, that Hoss had stomatitis, and that's why his mouth was in such bad shape. And in the end, I think he did have some AIDS symptoms. But by then, he was a very old cat and had lived with multiple health problems for years.
So what I also learned from my research was what I've know all along. FIV is not Feline AIDS, at least not for many, many years. Cats with FIV can live with other cats and won't infect their housemates. And cats with FIV can have a wonderful quality of life for a very long time. It all comes down to this: Cats with FIV are just like cats who don't have FIV. Except for Hoss. He wasn't like other cats. He was one of a kind and truly special. I was so lucky to have known him and lived with him for so many years.