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Christian Dolan

Christian Dolan

Christian Dolan is a London, England based Digital Marketer with a passion for all things Content and Social. When not sitting at his desk working, he is an avid HIV activist who volunteers regularly for HIV charities by fundraising and offering his time and support in helping to break down HIV stigma. Christian is an active committee member for The National AIDS Trust (NAT) World AIDS Day campaign and has been HIV Positive since 2009. For enjoyment Christian is an avid TV marathon watcher as well a regular runner, cyclist and gym junkie which he regularly tweets an about under @Dolantalks

Oct17

The positive side of being HIV positive

Monday, 17 October 2016 Written by // Christian Dolan Categories // Social Media, Mental Health, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Christian Dolan

In a bad situation, it's important to recognize and embrace the good, as Christian Dolan explains.

The positive side of being HIV positive

Having completed my CAM Diploma in Digital Marketing earlier this year, it was time for me to find a role which is more marketing focused and kick start my new career path.

Six months in and I am still looking. Despite interview after interview I am still on the hunt. To give some perspective, there has been an increase in the frequency of interviews as well as the stages I am getting down to – on two occasions I got down to the final two but lost out due to either lack of marketing experience within the sector or due to the other person having something I don’t – usually some other experience which is required as part of the job role.

Now anyone who has ever aggressively been on the hunt knows just how hard this is (we are still on about job hunting here, not a Friday evening on Grindr! Stay focused). Talking to my partner, who is probably the most supportive and patient person going in all of this as he, more than anyone else, hears all the moans and groans of the struggle and yet still manages to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel and to keep on at it. His words of advice to me: “…to make use of what you have got so far, being proud of what you have achieved to get to this stage. To be able to identify just how far you have come compared to where you were when you initially started this journey.” Sound words of advice. Words I have since taken on board and utilised in any way I can.

It is all about making the best out of a bad situation. I just have to not give up and keep on applying until the right one comes along.

Take that concept into another context now – an HIV+ diagnosis. Again, like my current situ with the job hunt, being HIV+, as it stands, is something I cannot change no matter how much I may wish to. So the best thing to do now is to make the best of a shit situation.

Unfortunately, there are many people who feel that their life is over once they have received a positive diagnosis and thus they struggle to deal with it. There is the fear of rejection when it comes to dating or because of the fear and stigma that is still associated today with living with HIV. This spectrum of fear is not something that just appears at the start and then either stays or goes. It can creep up at various stages through ones’ life, rearing its ugly head when you least expect it to.

" Hell if I was as on the case as I am telling you to be, maybe I wouldn’t be here today writing this."

The first positive of being positive is that I know my status. Therefore, I know what my situation is. The same unfortunately can’t be said for so many people who presume they are negative and to make matters worse, don’t regularly get tested. How do you know for sure? Something which I push for so much among my negative peers. Knowing my situation means I can take full control over it. I.e. do everything I can to ensure I am keeping myself as healthy as possible. Take note, get tested. Hell if I was as on the case as I am telling you to be, maybe I wouldn’t be here today writing this.

Secondly, being HIV+ can sometimes mean having a weakened immune system, and because of this I am a bit more conscientious about my lifestyle in regards to keeping healthy and eating well. A slight flu bug can really knock me back so I am extra cautious to wrap up when cold and get my flu jab done as well as just making sure I am getting enough vitamins, etc. to stay on top of my game. I have achieved some awesome goals along this journey, I’ve ran marathons, done a solo cycle to Brighton, to just name a couple.

Now with HIV comes the antiretroviral therapy (ART) you have to take to keep the virus at bay. When I started my ART I was already four years diagnosed - I started late as my body is clearly as stubborn as its owner and my CD4 refused point blank to drop as quickly as my consultant expected it to.

Sitting in with the pharmacist, consultant and my sister, who wanted to come along and support me, I cried. I was scared. It became all too real, it was like being 22 and scared shitless all over again. The concept being once I started them – that’s it. This is for life. Three and a half years later and it is now a mere part of my evening routine and I think next to nothing of it. I adhere to my routine because it is first and foremost in my best interest to do so, but also for in the best interest of my partner to remain negative by me being undetectable (I will come back to this later).

Now I know of so many people who unfortunately have had their meds changed umpteen times over for various reasons. Their body rejects them or they have seriously bad side effects from them. Thankfully, this has happened to me only once, something I'm grateful for. The positive side to being on meds for life is that I am now undetectable, and have been consistently since I was told back in May 2013. According to the PARTNER study, transmission with an undetectable viral load doesn't happen. Now if this isn’t making the best thing of a bad situation I don’t know what is.

What if I could change it all? Ask me if I could turn back the clocks would I? Not at all. I have said it again and I will keep doing so, it has made me the man I am today and my answer will never change.

I have may some amazing allies who I now call friends, I have educated and been educated. Hell, it is one bitch of a wakeup call.

There are also many people who are not HIV+ but are indirectly affected by HIV one way or another. These people work tirelessly to fight the stigma and discrimination. To provide accurate information in regards to HIV which is reliable, revised regularly and trusted – NAM is one example of such an organisation. Being positive and seeing what good stead I am in I hope is seen as a weapon that will aid in the defeat of the stigma that is still rife today.

As a closing thought, there are so many more positive things to being positive, as dumbfounding as some may find that statement. So next time you meet someone who discloses their status to you, see the positives, it will help them to embrace the good out of a bad situation. Your words may even be the trigger which picks someone, who may not be dealing with it well, up off the floor, dust it off and start to really make a change for the better. Showing the positivity of being positive I believe will help defeat the barriers such a condition holds.

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