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Interview 02

Age at interview: 41
Age at diagnosis: 38
Brief Outline: Now on efavirenz and Combivir, his viral load is undetectable. He has suffered few side-effects. He had counseling to help him cope, and looks forward to getting back to work.
Background: Living in a city outside of London he was diagnosed with HIV in mid-2002. He developed tuberculosis shortly after diagnosis.

More about me...

Age at interview' 41

Age at diagnosis' 38

Sex' Male

Background' A 41 year old gay man living in a city outside of London who was diagnosed with HIV in mid-2002, when he presented with weight loss. 

Outline'  A 41 year old gay man living in a city outside of London who was diagnosed with HIV in mid-2002, when he presented with weight loss. He developed tuberculosis shortly after diagnosis. Now on efavirenz and Combivir, his CD4 cells have climbed from below 300 to over 500 at interview, and he had an undetectable viral load at interview. He has suffered a few side-effects (nightmares and night sweats). He tended to isolate himself at first, but has had counseling to deal with past family issues, and was looking forward to getting back to work.

 

What it felt like going for a HIV test result.

What it felt like going for a HIV test result.

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I was apprehensive. The experience was a bit mystifying. Because'

Why is that?

It felt as if I'd like' As soon as I walked in to the hospital I was like walking on the, a sheet of thin ice. I thought well it's either' I am either going to get all of the way across it and survive or otherwise I mean it's going to break in. And that's it. And, and, what, what was' What I'm trying to say about that is, is that if, if, if there's bad news I'm going to go under. And if it's good news I'm going to stay on the top.
 
 

How he deals with his anxiety about his health.

How he deals with his anxiety about his health.

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And then I still do worry about whether I can get any illnesses. I mean I wa- wake up every morning thinking is there anything wrong with me. You know. 

I mean it's like this morning, when I was on my way to come and see you. I don't know whether it's, whether it's because of the changing in the atmosphere, high pressure or low pressure, I think that's probably has something to do with it. But I felt a little bit sort of like breathless. But I think that's because I suffer from anxiety, you know. But no, I, I thought to myself well let, let's play it at its own game. You know, I mean why should this things stop me from going out or, or doing anything I want to do?

 

How he thought about his future when first diagnosed.

How he thought about his future when first diagnosed.

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One of the things I thought' that first occurred to me straight away was that, that I'm going to spend probably the rest of my life going into hospitals, you know? And because I'd already heard of stories of people who are infected with the virus and, and the exper-' you know like the sort of lives that they were leading and, and, you know, the sort of problems that they were having with it. So I could only expect that the same thing was going to happen to me. At first I wasn't too' It hadn't hit me straight away' What I'm trying to say is that it, it took a, a, 2, a couple, a few weeks for it to sink in.
 
 

Explains why he has decided to stick to his current combination of HIV medication.

Explains why he has decided to stick to his current combination of HIV medication.

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Yes. Well I mean there, there's been quite a few, you know, occasions when I've picked up the pieces of material, leaflets and booklets and stuff, you know, on HIV. And, and reading about the, you know, the new, new forms of medication. Because they keep coming up, don't they? New, new different forms of medication. And you just read, I just read through it and think well no, just stick to what I've got [laughs]. You know, it, it was [pause] it was painful enough to find out that I'd got this illness to start with, let alone me trying in any way to deliberate on how I was going to deal with it from that day on. Luckily for me and, and from' for' Luckily for me and, and as a result of the support and assistance of other people, I've, I've been able to remain alive up to now. And hopefully for quite a number of years to come. You know but I don't want to change anything. The way, the' I don't want to change anything as it is now. I don't want to change it. I don't want to change the medication or anything like that. I just want to leave it as it, as it is. You know? And if the worst comes to the worst so be it. You know, 'che sara sara' and all the rest. That's what I believe in. Yes.

 

Because the medication works he can get on with life and not think so much about HIV.

Because the medication works he can get on with life and not think so much about HIV.

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I started to, I, I started to tell myself there was no point in, in unnecessarily getting yourself down and into a, a quagmire of frustration, anger and hopelessness. You know, I know it's, I know it's an incurable illness. I know it, it's a virus that lives in, in the, in your bloodstream. It does reproduce. But I mean the medication I'm taking blocks the action of the reproduction of this virus. Now with that in mind, that's enough for me to be able to live as a normal life as possible. If I do become unexpectedly ill or if my cell count drops to such a low level and the viral load becomes detectable again and descends to a limit that is unacceptable to any member of the medical profession, a specialist, someone who works an HIV treatment, then that would create cause for concern. But until then I'm just going to live as normal life as possible.

 

He wants to avoid passing HIV on to anyone, and he may choose a HIV positive partner.

He wants to avoid passing HIV on to anyone, and he may choose a HIV positive partner.

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If, if I go out to a gay bar or' I mean [pause] it won't particularly bother me if someone makes an advance and I reject it. It doesn't bother me. Because I always said to myself in the back of my mind that I would not want to pass this thing on to anyone [pause] under any circumstances. And that was going back to when I got it. Because putting two and two together, you know, didn't have to be a Sherlock Holmes, it's someone that I went with who knew that they had it, but, you know, could have told me. But maybe didn't because they, they felt as if they'd be rejected if they did. You know. Now I am experiencing the same thing.

The only, the case is' The only difference here is that if I, if I do ever go with anyone, it will probably more likely be someone who is also HIV positive. Because I wouldn't want to run the risk.

My, my conscience wouldn't allow me to do anything like that. You know.
 
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