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Interview 10

Age at interview: 41
Age at diagnosis: 34
Brief Outline: Today, he has considerable support from friends and family, and takes a combination of anti-retroviral drugs with few side effects (abacavir, 3TC, Kaletra). He is now in good health except for occasional chest infections.
Background: Irish gay male living in London. He originally went on combination therapies as part of a trial, and has suffered from PCP.

More about me...

Age at interview' 41

Age at diagnosis' 34

Sex' 

 

Had real trouble taking his medication because of the problems he encountered.

Had real trouble taking his medication because of the problems he encountered.

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It was sort of… it was a bit hard, eating at certain times and taking your tablets and having your tablets with you. And also I tend to do travelling quite a bit, so going to the States and going to places like that made it a bit harder.

How did you manage?

Occasionally I missed my dose, which then made it twice as hard because sort of the side-effects. If I miss one, my morning, and I'd just take it in the evening, my side effects tends to be not, to be stronger and more unpleasant. So you feel more ill, and then you think, well I'll just skip that, whatever. I have to work hard at taking my medication, because I'm quite easy to sort of… I can't be bothered today, or I haven't eaten enough. I'm rushing, or actually I didn't come home last night so they're not here. 

Cos I know I have to do it and I should do it but it doesn't always mean that I do do it.

 

A doctor in Accident & Emergency, and a community dentist he had visited had seemed uninformed...

A doctor in Accident & Emergency, and a community dentist he had visited had seemed uninformed...

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I went to the dentist and had an examination and he was sort of looking at my teeth and he said you know, 'Is there anything I need to know or whatever.' And I was quite open and I said, 'Yeah, I'm HIV positive, if this is a problem for you, tell me now rather than waste all our time.' And he sort of said, 'No.' But he stood ten steps back and he just got very uncomfortable. 

And then he straight away told his dental nurse, who was actually very good and she said, 'No, HIV's not a problem, it's much easier to get hepatitis than all of this.' And I was very annoyed, I said, 'This conversation is between me and you. Not between you and your dental nurse. I needed to decide whether I was comfortable with you and you with me and I really believe you're not.' And he wasn't. And he more or less implied that he would prefer if I didn't come back. He didn't, what he said to me was he didn't have any patients who were HIV positive. And I said, 'No, that's not true, you might have patients that aren't telling you.'

I was in hospital for a week with a chest infection and was taken in by ambulance. And I' because if you know, you sort of know your own body and how you're feeling, well I think I do reasonably well. And you go through certain'. I get chest infections. So I know the routine procedures and how it's going to work and pan out, and if I do this now it will be better than if I leave it a day. So I was taken in by hospital, in by ambulance. And the on call doctor, whatever, in A&E, sort of said, 'Have you conditions or whatever, medication and that?' So I said, 'I'm HIV positive.' And his first words were, 'Oh my God.'

 

How HIV has changed the way he understands and manages his time.

How HIV has changed the way he understands and manages his time.

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I guess HIV's made me more aware of time. Every minute of the day is mine and how I choose to spend it is mine. It makes you a little selfish. I don't waste my time or if I do waste my time it's because I have chosen to waste my time. But it's like if I make an appointment with somebody to do something at sort of ten o clock and they don't turn up until eleven, then I'm really annoyed because they've wasted an hour of my time. And I consider my time precious because it's limited you know. So, like if I chose to waste an hour, that's my decision, I've consciously decided that I'm going to do nothing for the day or whatever but' I sort of pretty much only do what I want to do really. You know, if I spend time with you it's because I want to spend time with you. It's not because I feel I have to or whatever, because again, it's my time and it's limited.

 

His male partner was deported and he felt it was difficult for others to understand his grief.

His male partner was deported and he felt it was difficult for others to understand his grief.

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And we had, you know, we had a really good time, travelled, went on holiday, took him home to meet my parents. There was a sort of a coming out stage and that, this is my boyfriend, this is who I love, this is the most important person in my life at this point in time. And then he got deported.

Because he didn't have a Visa. That was heart wrenching. I remember, it was the 26th September when he was flown back from Heathrow. And that was like, you know, it was like somebody had died. You just, I think I cried for days. And it was very difficult because nobody understood. 

Why didn't they understand? 

I think because they didn't give' people don't think of gay relationships as having the same sort of mental process as a straight relationship. We don't have feelings, you can meet somebody else tomorrow or whatever. But this was a major part of my life. It had just been totally disrupted and ended and gone. And your family don't understand because they don't really want to talk about it. If it was my sister's husband that had left, everybody would all mother her, cuddle up and we can get through this and whatever. But you are very much left on your own. I think people don't know how to react or what they should say or not say so better off just to leave you alone. So that was pretty horrendous. 

 

He belongs to many minorities and has to challenge prejudices.

He belongs to many minorities and has to challenge prejudices.

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You know, I've sort of been the minority and I'm in London as an Irish man. In Ireland as being a gay protestant. In the Republic, you know, sort of a minority. And then you sort of come here and you become HIV positive. So it's all minorities all the way. So it makes you, it makes me very intolerant to people who don't' who are racist or prejudiced in any way. I have absolutely no time for it. And in sort of situations like that I find that I can't ignore it either. I have to stand up and say, 'This is not right. This is not, you know, you cannot think these views', I mean, 'You can think them but they're not correct.' And I have to express myself and tell them. I can't sort of let somebody say something and sort of think, 'Well, OK, I'm not going to challenge that or whatever.' I have to get in and sort of say, 'Wrong.'

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