In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part four of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.
THEY SAY AN ESTIMATED ONE THIRD OF HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE ARE UNAWARE OF THEIR HIV STATUS.
That was me.
For two years I carried the HIV virus, unaware, no signs or symptoms. And then I started a potential new relationship. The doctor, in a blue and white striped shirt asked me what I wanted. “A STI screen please.” “Would you also like a blood test for HIV and Hep C?” “Sure, why not, I have nothing to loose.” The same doctor from two weeks before sat me down. I still remember the first things she said to me. It was as if those moments became preserved in time, like fossils from an antiquated era.
“Have you ever lived in Sydney?” “No. I’m sorry, what does this have to do with my STI results?”
“Well… it seems you’ve tested positive to HIV and the reason I asked if you’d ever lived in Sydney is because Sydney has the highest rate of HIV in the country. I thought this might explain your HIV positive result.”
Heart stops. Stage curtain goes down, theatre lights switch off. End of scene.
But the show must go on right?
The protagonist must duel with the adversary – the virus?
The reality was we didn’t fight.
The medication kept the virus at bay and I led a healthy life.
Instead I was forced to contend with myself, my perceived disfigurement and my own self-stigma.
My Mum says the hardness battles are the ones you have with yourself. She was right. My self-acceptance was the life-changing lesson.