A-Z

Interview 01

Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 28
Brief Outline: A long term survivor who has done a considerable amount of voluntary work in Aids, uses complementary health approaches, and is concerned about HIV discrimination and stigma.
Background: Lives in a city outside of London, diagnosed with HIV in 1985, but has never needed anti-virals, nor had a physical illness due to HIV.

More about me...

Age at interview' 49

Age at diagnosis' 28

Sex' Male

Background' A 49 year old gay man living in a city outside of London who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985.

Outline' A 49 year old gay man living in a city outside of London who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. Although he was told he would be dead from Aids within a few years, he has always had high levels of CD4 cells, and has never needed anti-HIV drugs, nor had a physical illness due to HIV. He is a long term survivor who has done a considerable amount of voluntary and paid work in Aids. He has suffered from isolation and depression in the past and has high blood pressure. He has used complementary health approaches (e.g. Reiki, meditation) and has gained social support through HIV charities. He is concerned about HIV discrimination and stigma. He feels it is important to be himself.

 

It took him some time before he was prepared to go for a HIV test.

It took him some time before he was prepared to go for a HIV test.

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So he (his ex-partner) actually came to me and told me, '[Name], I think you should go for a check-up.' And I went, 'Why?' as you do. And he sort of turns around and says, 'Well I have got this Aids virus which'' as it was known in them days. There wasn't much information around about HIV or Aids. It was always very clearly identified as the Aids virus. You were also known as aids sufferers you know, and there are all sorts of political clich's that was going around then. But anyway [name] came to me my partner, and in fact he came with his wife I invited them over for dinner, because I still wanted to be his friend although he had got married. So I invited them over for dinner anyway, his wife went up to the toilet and he pulled me to one side and he says I think you had better go for a blood test. It took me about six months to actually physically go for a blood test because I wasn't quite sure what my own personal reaction was going to be anyway, especially in the light of... we had heard so much about it.
 
 

He cannot feel good about himself when he faces so many problems.

He cannot feel good about himself when he faces so many problems.

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I think that deep down inside you know the negative part of me thinks that I am a failure. I have not got a job, I have no qualifications, I am on benefits, I am long-term sick, I am in and out of depression. [ugh] I can't really socialise quite well, so I become more introverted rather than being the extrovert that I used to be. Maybe that is financial as well, maybe that blends in with the finances because if I could afford to go out and have a drink now and again maybe I would get social [laughs].
 
 

He has struggled to be positive in mind and be at peace.

He has struggled to be positive in mind and be at peace.

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Well I still, I still' I use the word positive mental attitude, but I think that my philosophy is I don't' I might sound angry with the system, and angry with society and the way they are treating people with HIV, but I'm not really angry with them. I am part of you know, I am part of that same society. However, I think that I would rather be angry with the virus.

How do you do that?

I have done lots of things over the years, and obviously I have participated in lots of complementary therapies' aromatherapy, massage, Reiki. I have even been to spiritual lessons' spiritual classes. Basically just to find some inner peace if you like. And in some cases' although I use the term positive mental attitude, deep down inside I am actually quite a negative person.

 

Used a visualisation to picture destroying the HIV virus in his body and felt more in control.

Used a visualisation to picture destroying the HIV virus in his body and felt more in control.

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And also during the AIDS mastery course there was' I held this pink quartz and they started to say' there were like facilitators in the group and they started to say things like 'What we want you to do now is relax, close your eyes', we had cushions and pillows all around us, and it was like visualise that you are walking nice and slowly, taking your first step, you know you can hear rippling brooks, and it was like relaxation things. And then one particular facilitator started to change it, and say, 'Right, now you're in a relaxed position, what I would like you to do is think about the virus, have a look at it, do we all know what it looks like.' Well he didn't say do we all know what it looks like, we know what it looks like, because we did that as part of our weekend. So we looked at this virus, and we started to look at it. 'I want you to get angry with it.' So we are all knocking seven bells of crap out of the pillows. It was quite funny really, it was like we were all going bloody mental. But saying that it was one of those things that actually, it really brought out a lot of baggage about the virus because we had visualised it, we hated it, we destroyed it. We weren't cured of it, we knew that at the end of the course. You have still got the virus, but you are more in control with that virus. That virus is not controlling you.
 
 

Explains that listening to others can begin to break down prejudices.

Explains that listening to others can begin to break down prejudices.

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I think people need to listen generally' it is the easiest thing in the world to say and is the hardest thing to do. But I really do feel that breaks down the barriers, breaks down the prejudice, breaks down the discrimination and also starts to make people aware. I think that the general population, that is those uninfected as well, need to learn to listen, and stop judging people' because we judge' we are all judgmental people, we all have prejudices. I have discussed this at great length before but we have got to stop, I am just as judgmental as anybody else. I try to justify the reasons why.

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