Many people don’t test for HIV because they’re scared of a positive result, they don’t think HIV affects them or they don’t think they’ve been at risk or are vulnerable to HIV.
In support of National HIV Testing Week 18-24 November 2017, Positively UK wants to remove the fear and stigma of testing for HIV.
During National HIV Testing Week we will be sharing the stories of seven people who have had the HIV test and received a positive diagnosis.
I was only tested for HIV because my then partner became incredibly ill and was rushed into hospital. This was many years ago before the life saving drugs we have now. I knew that if he was positive then chances were that I would be.
Having the test and finding out a positive result was no surprise but still it left me numb. It was a different time and I became quite ill, I was also in my first year at university. I remember my overriding feeling was that if I was going to die then I would do so with a degree, that, I thought rather dramatically, could be etched on my tombstone.
It was the early 90s before the introduction of the brilliant, life affirming treatments we now have, I stopped smoking, stopped drugs and at the time drinking and I started to really look at my all-round health. I made changes, started running and exercising and thought about the food I was putting into my body. Back then, before drugs, I did what I could do to stay alive. I understood how precious and bloody wonderful life is.
Twenty-five years later I’m still here, thriving and adoring the simple fact that I’m ageing.
I’m in my fifties and still exploring new horizons. Making those changes back then has enabled me to life a fairly balanced life, I appreciate my health and still do what I can to improve the way I feel through diet and exercise. HIV gave me a bravery that I never had before.
My HIV diagnosis became a positive life-chance, I didn’t know how long I would live for, many back then died. But I made an active choice to grasp life and try to live in the present, I had the support of family and friends but more importantly, for me, I set life goals that were about living, not about a ‘bucket list’ to accomplish before dying. If you get a positive diagnosis, please self care, reach out to those you know you can trust and to others you may meet, get support and then allow your life to go back to its old pace or find a new pace but know that with the brilliant treatments we now have that there is no reason why your life cannot be both long and full of wonder.