We all have that fear, something we dare not speak, something that some of us don’t want to know, some of us even wish it didn’t exist.
The above statement covers quite a few illnesses and conditions. But this time I am referring to HIV, I hope to enlighten people as to what it means to themselves and others. The quicker one can accept they have it, the better and quicker they can move on with their lives.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). When this disease was first discovered basically it was good bye if you had enough time to say it. Nowadays though, with current medications and treatment regimes, you can live a normal life being physically healthy.
But that isn’t the hardest that HIV positive people have to deal with, Its the psychological, mental and emotional quality of life that gets changed.
There are programs where a doctor can refer you to a psychologist and or counselling sessions if needed (I have been seeing some over the last 10 years) They are there to help you, they are not there to judge you.
Myself I was diagnosed in October 2004, When the doctor told me I had it, I was in shock but the doctor at the time, gave me phone numbers of people I could talk to, explained in detail what it meant and what options were available. Doctors have a duty of care, that they can not let you leave their rooms, until they are satisfied you wont hurt yourself or others.
From the day I was diagnosed I read pamphlets on pamphlets, Googled information and in the end confused myself with too much too quick.
Yes I accepted the responsibility that came with being HIV Positive as I understood it. My dating profiles changed to HIV positive and in messages I made sure that at least by the second or third message I had mentioned it. We all know some people only see the pictures and NOT the words.
Downfall, Mentioning my HIV status was generally met with no response, being blocked or even abused for contacting a negative person with the intention of infecting them. If this was the case why would i have made a point of saying it? The trouble was people are scared of what they don’t understand, why don’t they understand, its because they don’t want to know.
Upside, I did find some people who genuinely wanted to know more, they actually asked questions...
Most common questions I got were:
1) What symptoms did you have? because I’ve had this......
Answer – For me I had a fever and a headache, I thought it was a common flu,
Reality – It can only be detected with a blood test, some people don’t even show symptoms.
There are people out there that have had the disease for over 20 years, never been sick and never had meds.
2) What made you get tested?
Answer – As a gay male that partook in risky activities. At that time I did play safe with positive people but played unsafe with those I believed to be negative.
Was I a fool for playing protected with positive guys? Or the fool for not asking the negative guys when they were last tested?
So I voluntarily went for a full STD/STI check every 3 months. Sometimes sooner if I noticed something that looked a bit odd.
Reality – If you haven’t had a HIV blood test recently there is no guarantee you are negative IF you have undertaken risky activities. (link below) PS – IF you ask someone if they are HIV positive, remember they must have been tested to know truthfully if they are or IF they are not.
HIV Risk Rating Site
NB – IF you believe or think you may have been in contact with a HIV person, If you ring a sexual health clinic and explain the situation. There is a PEP treatment, that may help. BUT this needs to happen within 72 hours of possible exposure.
3) I slept with So-and-So can you tell me if they are positive like you?
Answer – If your able to ask me, Why can’t you ask them?
Reality – Australian Law. But remember Until a doctor diagnoses them HIV positive, they can truthfully tell you they believe they are negative.
The HIV Test – Feared by many Why?
Its the same as any other blood test, they slide the needle in take blood cover with a bandaid and your on your way.
Pop back in next week and you can get the results.. Simple..
HIV Testing – Confidentiality and legalities of it
HIV can change a person, mentally, HIV positive people are of a higher risk of suffering from severe depression.
People when first diagnosed, are scared of meeting people incase they find out then they wont be friends anymore.
Some people are paranoid thinking that the person looking in their direction knows they have it.
It effects different people differently, but that’s why there are trained counsellors and psychologists available at the sexual health clinics and through your regular GP, to help you deal with which ever issues you face.
My problem was i worked in the construction industry, so would always nick myself, I was paranoid I was going to infect someone.
(Chances of infecting someone this way negligible, but when I see my own blood logic goes out the window)
But the first rule of first aid, “treat every patient/injured person as though they have something”
There are some support groups around in the different states that can help you with different things, They need a referral from your GP / Sex Health Clinic to become a client and get support from them.
I will post up a list of state based support groups for HIV people later this week.
Any other questions you may have in relation to HIV or other issues send me a message on GTG and I’ll reply in an article with as much factual information as I can.
Thanks in advance Ben Downunder.