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Interview 15

Age at interview: 33
Age at diagnosis: 28
Brief Outline: He is determined not to let HIV rule his life. He takes Sustiva/Combivir with no current side effects. He exercises and is careful about his diet to stay healthy. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A gay man born in the Caribbean who immigrated to the UK. He presumes he was infected in a relationship after not always using condoms consistently.

More about me...

Age at interview' 36

Age at diagnosis' 31

Sex' Male

Background' A gay man born in the Caribbean who immigrated to the UK. He was diagnosed in 2000 and believes he was infected by a partner in a relationship.

Outline' A gay man born in the Caribbean who immigrated to the UK. He was diagnosed in 2000 and believes he was infected by a partner in a relationship after not always using condoms in the 'heat of the moment'.

Although he feels some shame about his HIV status, he has a 'fighting spirit' and is determined not to let HIV rule his life. He takes Sustiva/Combivir with no current side-effects, his T cells are currently 600, and his viral load is undetectable. He exercises and is careful about his diet to stay healthy.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

He is flexible and very successful with taking his medication. (Read by an actor.)

He is flexible and very successful with taking his medication. (Read by an actor.)

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In the nearly 5 years since I have been diagnosed I have only missed taking meds once. I am not always on time but I allow myself a window of a couple hours and I think this is why I am undetectable today. 

I remember by paying attention to the time - whenever it gets to the assigned time it would be like an alarm in my head but on weekends if I am out or late and didn't want to deal with the side-effects of food/meds combination, I'd take them later than usual.

 

Says a fighting spirit to get on with everyday life is a secret of his success. (Read by an actor.)

Says a fighting spirit to get on with everyday life is a secret of his success. (Read by an actor.)

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I knew people who were rumoured to have been positive and even knew a couple acquaintances that died from Aids. But it wasn't like I knew what life entailed on a daily basis for a person living with the disease. I had a fighting spirit and decided I was not going to let this rule my life. 

I didn't miss any work in the first few weeks. What was I going to do sit and mope or deal with it head on? I think in the long run that has been the secret to my success in fighting the disease. I have a positive attitude and tried not to tell many people - partly out of shame but partly out of not wanting sympathy. 

I think finding a few select people who will give good advice or just listen helps but being treated differently by co-workers or friends only adds to the negative forces that play a part in mental defeat.

 

His partner tested positive with HIV so he prepared himself for being positive also. (Read by an...

His partner tested positive with HIV so he prepared himself for being positive also. (Read by an...

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All I could do is replay in my mind how I had contracted HIV. I was seeing my partner for nearly a year and he wasn't aware that he had it. I had been tested yearly and was fine until February of 2000. 

By July of that year I was infected and by late August I had gotten mononucleosis but it still didn't occur to me that anything was wrong until my partner began showing symptoms of shingles and his doctor told him it was very strange for him to be in his early thirties and have shingles. 

He was told that he should be tested for HIV and when he found out he was positive then I instinctively knew I had contracted it as well. Testing wasn't hard for me - I just knew to myself that I had gotten it. The odds were in favour of me being positive, so that's what I prepared myself for. 

 

Feels he contracted HIV from a partner who was not aware of their HIV infection. (Read by an actor.)

Feels he contracted HIV from a partner who was not aware of their HIV infection. (Read by an actor.)

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All I could do is replay in my mind how I had contracted HIV. I was seeing my partner for nearly a year and he wasn't aware that he had it. 

I had been tested yearly and was fine until February of 2000. 

By July of that year I was infected and by late August I had gotten mononucleosis but it still didn't occur to me that anything was wrong until my partner began showing symptoms of shingles and his doctor told him it was very strange for him to be in his early thirties and have shingles. He was told that he should be tested for HIV and when he found out he was positive then I instinctively knew I had contracted it as well.

 

He met a man who seemed to avoid him because of his HIV status. (Read by an actor.)

He met a man who seemed to avoid him because of his HIV status. (Read by an actor.)

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My biggest problem these days is whether to identify myself as being positive to potential partners. I have had it blow up in my face when I was honest and it hurts when people run away. 

I met a guy on a mini-vacation and I was very interested in him. I didn't know I was already positive but by the time he came to the city I was living in to visit with the possible intention of a move, I had just found out my status and I told him at a club. He was very encouraging verbally but soon left. He never made an effort to keep in contact and avoided when I went back to his city for visits. 

It really was the worse thing that could have happened so soon after my diagnosis because now I refrain from telling people immediately - however I do make sure not to put them in danger.

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