Currently over 100'000 in the UK are living with HIV. Some of us understand the diagnosis more than others but most of us don't have a clue what they're dealing with.
answers what you've always wanted to ask about HIV...
How does HIV affect your day to day life?
Well that's a complicated one. My HIV journey has been a struggle but I've really tried to share it all. The virus itself is undetectable. The ART meds have been a long winding road of severe skin rashes; night sweats; sleepless nights and even diarrhoea. So while my clinic attempted to find the right course of medication it really affected my day to day life. But I can happily say for the last 3 years I've been living my life like everyone else. It doesn't affect my life in any way really. I try to stay healthy; I've started going to the gym and trying to drink less but I can't say that's a bad thing and it was a conscious decision.
What do you wish people would stop saying to you?
Do you know how you got it? And do you know who gave it to you? They're just questions that you shouldn't ask. They're so personal and can stir emotions and memories that some people may not want to talk or even think about. I'm an open book when it comes to my journey with this disease and love to talk about every aspect of it and have spent many an evening educating friends and strangers on it. Those two questions however are just no goes.
What can I do for a friend who has HIV?
Listen, be patient and make time. My entire circle of friends have been incredible. There were lots of tears when I told most people. I think that's the shock and also the lack of education around it all. Close friends hear the words " I've got HIV" and look at you like WTF OMG are you gonna die? Are you ok? It all calms down and they have all been amazing. They have sat and had a cry with me; they've held my hand at hospital through MRI scans; lumbar punctures, we've laughed together and danced my cares away.
So just be there and listen.
How do you tell lovers you have HIV? (And how do they react?)
I just tell them straight up. If I'm dating I'll let people know and as of yet I've not had a negative reaction. Online dating is very different though. People are rude and actually quite ignorant about it. I think that when it's in person it's a more human thing, so people are more inquisitive and understanding. Whereas as online it's just another piece of tick box criteria that people either like or don't.
How should a lover react when you tell them you have HIV?
The same as your friends. Just be there and listen. Either they can live with it or they can't be with you. You really need to respect that that is their decision and they need time to deal with that too.
Are you scared?
Of what? I'm happily living my life surrounded by people that love me.