2 August 2013

I am so angry, why is this still going on? I met up with a newly diagnosed woman yesterday, it was urgent, essential, she needed to talk to me right away; she had to speak to another positive person, someone who knew what she was going through. After she’d hung up I cried. Even though it was thirteen years ago I could still remember being told I was HIV positive and my whole world crumbling around me. Of course I dropped everything and went to meet her. It had to be somewhere discreet, not in a public place where people might overhear us, so we chose a car park. We sat in my car like a pair of fugitives, the windows up, sweltering in the heat. Her tears fell, her hands shook, the poor girl was traumatised and still in shock. Why does it still have to be this way – haven’t times moved on? Why does this person have to hide her bad news, keep it to herself, have no one to turn to at the worst time in her life; feel ashamed, consider ending it all because the way she sees it her life ended the day she received her diagnosis. Where do you turn for support if you can’t tell anyone, where do you go, what do you do? I could not deny or hedge around the truth that her life as she knew it has ended, but it is still a life, I told her.  

I don’t want to live with this, I can’t live with this. I wish it had been cancer.                                    

Don’t say that, you can live with this, look at me; you are not going to die.                                              

I can’t tell anyone, I feel ashamed, God is punishing me, I will lose my job, people will make assumptions about me, think I’m a slag, I am worthless, I deserve it for not being


You are human, you are still beautiful, if you believe you get what you deserve you will, you have to believe you deserve better – and you do.                                                                                  

How do you cope, are you happy, do you get depressed, do the meds affect you, do you have a partner?                                                                                                                                                

Yes, yes, yes, a bit, no. I have grown a hard knot of steel inside me, after coping with HIV I can cope with anything. I am a lot older than you; I am not looking or even hoping for another partner, I am happy on my own, at least most of the time.                                                            

I tried my best to cheer her up, give her some hope – I made her smile, her eyes lit up, just briefly, just for a moment. That was good enough, one day at a time with HIV. When you go to bed tonight and that big bully HIV is sitting on your chest like a heavy rock, shove it off and think of all the positive people in the world millions of us, twinkling like stars.

We are all around you in every town in every country all over the world, there is a positive universe. You are not alone.                                                                                              

Afterwards as we got into our separate cars and drove away in totally different directions, to our totally different lives, I felt the anger rising up in me. I wanted to hit something, rage at the world – HIV can happen to anyone you ignorant fools, we are not lepers, we have done nothing wrong, we did not choose HIV it chose us and it can choose anyone, it doesn’t care. Bloody stupid cruel evil life wrecking f****** virus and bloody stupid cruel evil life wrecking f****** bigots for still believing the stigma and hype that comes with it. We are all human and people unlucky enough to be saddled with this indiscriminating virus deserve to be treated humanely.



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