How can I make life go on?
Almost everyone has said life goes on. Being HIV+ isn’t what it used to be.
I know this, I truly do, but why does my head not fall in line with this trail of thought?
Before being diagnosed I would have always described myself as knowledgeable. I know how HIV can be passed on, and more importantly how it isn’t. I understand the myths and nonsense that is out there. There is so much more to know and understand though - the impact of your CD4 and viral load, the various different treatments available.
In the hospital being told my diagnosis my head filled with those three letters HIV and I feel it pushed all sensible information out and it's been hard to get back to some sense of normality in my head.
I’m so grateful for the support I have been offered from friends and strangers, negative and positive people. I do believe however unless you have been through a diagnosis you have no idea what goes on in your head. I still can’t turn to my friends locally and say I need you. They don’t understand and I think that's clear.
It will be five weeks tomorrow since my diagnosis. In many ways that's flown over, but in others it's been so slow. Physically it has flown by. Mentally I feel like I have aged 50 years. I just can’t seem to get my head round my diagnosis. Its frustrating, I know I’m going to be OK and life can and will go on.
I can be sat on my bus to work, or watching TV, or sat in the office and I just well up. I think about how my mam reacted and I break down. I have caused her to hurt, and cry. I can never forgive myself for that. There are some times, not often I add, but sometimes where I just want to give up. I don’t know if I have the strength in me.
In many ways I feel like my life is on hold, in the consulting room playing over and over again.
One thing that does concern me is stigma and people’s perception of people who live with HIV.
Tell people you have HIV and if they are old enough, their first thought is the old 80′s advert. For anyone too young it is below.
One of the biggest battles that people living with HIV face is beating this stigma, making people realise it is no long a death sentence and that we can live and lead a normal (whatever normal is) happy and pretty much healthy lives. Medication these days is amazing and really does help keep the virus at bay.
Recent TV shows like Unsafe Sex In The City on BBC3 and The Sex Clinic on Channel 4 have raised awareness of the need for people to get regularly tested and help reduce the spread of not just HIV but also STI’s in general.
My only real issue is the number of people who leave the clinic after being given the news they have no infections and referring to themselves as clean. Being HIV+ does not make us dirty, and I feel those that refer to themselves as clean are inferring that we are dirty. These references go unchallenged and it's almost giving the public the idea that we are dirty.'
I have to say however its very sad and shocking, how many young people are so flippant about their sexual health. Statements like “Its only chlamydia” I find shocking.
Education is key! We need to educate the adults and we need to educate in schools.
Being HIV+ is hard enough as it is without the stigma. It's a physical and mental health issue. The physical side is probably the easiest of the two. I am saying this only five weeks since diagnosis.
I am aware to some i may have dealt with my diagnosis in ways they wouldn’t have done. I told family and close work colleagues within a week of my diagnosis. However, I did what I felt right and have been very lucky that I have had no adverse reactions.
That was until today.
It seems someone messaged a friend and asked the following question:
“Is it true *insert my surname* has the Mark Fowlers?”
To those who aren’t aware who Mark Fowler is, he was a character in Eastenders from the start in 1985 until 2003. He was a heterosexual man who contracted HIV. Now I must point out, the person who said this is the least relevant person to me, and to be honest his ignorance is no surprise. But to refer to HIV as the Mark Fowlers infuriates me. Its disgusting, and I wanted to knock him out for saying that, not that it was referring to me.
Gay or straight, lesbian or transgender, let's educate people. Spread the message to family, friends, old and young that someone with HIV will live a very healthy life to their normal life expectancy. Let's defeat stigma, defeat myths.
A friend of mine from twitter and a great support posted this recent post himself regarding myths of HIV. Well worth a read (as is the rest of the blog). Thank you Alex for letting me link to this:
To be continued . .
About the writer: “I am a 30 year old gay guy living in the north of England. This blog is a way for me to vent my emotions but also document my journey from diagnosis to the future and how the journey continues”
These articles previsouly appeared on newlypositive’s own blog here.
You can follow newlyhiv on his own blog here or on twitter @newlypositive.