Healthy people have from 500 to 1,600.
That was the year Gibson was selected for a clinical trial of the first of the antiretroviral drugs that ultimately reclaimed so many lives. Within three weeks, he began to gain strength.
Still, there were setbacks.
When Gibson entered the clinical trial for the anti-HIV drugs, he found out that he was also infected with hepatitis C. Last year, in an unsuccessful bid to rid himself of that infection, he underwent a harrowing round of chemotherapy, then got even sicker when one of those drugs conflicted with his HIV medication.
Gibson and Golay are not complainers by nature. Part of their pact -- to help everyone who needs help -- includes taking part in drug trials even if benefits come too late for them.
It also means sharing the philosophy that has seen them through the worst of the epidemic and each new challenge.
"All you can do is treat the problem in front of you," Gibson said. "We adjust. We adapt."
They are the oldest surviving couple they know.
"We're old-timers now," Golay said. "We're a resource for people. That's kind of gratifying. It's one of the good things about getting older."