More about me...
Age at interview' 34
Age at diagnosis' 30
Background' An Asian gay man who was diagnosed in 2001 when he went along for tests following his partner having a sexually transmitted infection.
Outline' An Asian gay man who was diagnosed in 2001 when he went along for tests following his partner having a sexually transmitted infection. He was unsure whether he acquired his HIV through sex or perhaps when he had to handle dead bodies overseas during a war. He came from a culture where HIV is not discussed. He was not educated about HIV, and when he heard that his HIV test was positive, he thought it meant the result was good. He was shocked when he found out he was actually infected with HIV, and he wanted to kill himself. He found that by talking to people, he was able to feel much better. Prayer also help to distract him from negative thoughts. Since his viral load has reduced to undetectable with medication (currently emtricitabine, efavirenz, tenofovir), he has felt much better physically and psychologically. He no longer feels he is 'dirty' because of HIV.
(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Was shocked by the way a doctor in Accident and Emergency treated him. (Read by an actor.)
This happen like 2 years ago. I was really ill. I was… My whole body was swelling and, and fever. I… Then I just suffered with lots of night fever every day. I, I think it started maybe end of 2001. Nights where night fever. I have to constantly get changed. And it was getting worse and worse. Sometimes I have to get changed like 3, 4 times at night. So I have a sleepless night. And sometimes… year 2002. So I was really ill. So I was with, my friend.
And then he took me to hospital for emergency doctor… to see emergency doctor. When I went in, this doctor obviously don't have any knowledge about AIDS and HIV. So he's just a doctor, on-call doctor. God, the way he treated me is really bad. Discriminations.
He just like… He asked me, 'Have you got any other health issue, any problem?' I said to him, 'Look, I, I'm HIV positive.' Very slowly. And he said… He was shouting.
He goes, 'What?' I said, 'HIV positive.' And he just closed the file. It was like bang [claps]. It just like… Oh God. And he looked… 'You're not supposed to come here and see, see me. So what's the point of coming and see me? You must be… Do you have a doctor? Anything… Anyone to see your HIV?' I say, 'Yes.' Then, 'Yes, maybe you should go and see them. Don't come here.' That's it. That was the end. There's no moral support whatsoever. There's no tests, nothing. No recommendation. Or there's no comfort. I mean this is coming from someone… of professional doctor.
Coming from a country where sex and HIV was not discussed meant that he misinterpreted advice...
I just have to say one thing. Every single person I met… I mean that… I was 24, 25 or 26. But every single gay man I was speak to, they thought I'm like 16, 17. I looked really young then. And they always give me lots of long lecture about HIV, AIDS. 'You have to be very careful.' So I know… I already worked out I had to be very careful. So based on that, sex things is just… I thought sex… HIV is… you only can catch from man to man, you know.
So that's another thing in my subconscious. So I always worry I can't have sex with a man. So even kissing, I was concerned. If I kissed… I thought I gonna catch something from people. It, it just… It's kind of a cocktail, I don't know, background, Catholic traditions, and from Asia. And then the, the scare… being paranoid about HIV AIDS.
He thought that a 'positive' test result was a good thing and so at first could not understand...
And she says, 'How are you doing?' You know, 'You're here to find out your result and everything.' And say, 'Yes.' And she's just going… flick through the file like 10 minutes. Maybe she didn't find… I, I looked so happy, I was so excited. You know, everything's… Is… I tell my… I convinced myself everything will be fine.
And I wasn't expecting anything. So she was just going through, over and over and over again. Again and again and again. I asked, 'Is everything Ok?' She say, 'Yes, yes, I'm just checking a few more details, so I…' Then she put the file down. And she said, 'There's… The test come positive.' I was happy. I… Positive in term… I take it different way. So I thought it's good, isn't it? Yes. Positive is good result.
She said , 'No, no, no. Your HIV test is positive.' 'OK. But…' I was so panicked. I panicked. I can't understand exactly what she trying to say. HIV positive. Positive in my terms is good. Because I never know anything about HIV or AIDS anything.
Prayer helped him to overcome the negative conversations he has with himself. (Read by an actor.)
And I'm beginning to have a conversation between myself and my mind. I don't know. This mind person exists, like I talk, and somebody else is talk to me in my mind. It's happen during at nights. I won't sleep. I'll talk to myself. And I will answer. The person who responding to me, it is me, but it's in my mind. But it's always negative.
If I say, 'Why do I have to kill myself?' Then, then, I hear another voice say, 'Yes, you have to kill yourself because you're, you are, you are dirty, you are virus, you can't change anything yourself.' For some… I don't know.
I don't know. I do lots of pray. I read the Rosary and everything. I have some courage… I stop having a conversation with myself. Because you read the rosary, the beads, over and over again, you suddenly become a bit calmer. You begin to think very carefully what you're doing, what you're saying. Which is very important.
When he got better he felt he had wasted time thinking he was worthless and should die. (Read by...
So they prescribe the medication… And they have to do more blood tests to make sure that it's alright. Two other blood tests. So by the third week of February this year I already… I take prescribed medications. I took them home. I, I can't take it. I just, I just want to die.
I don't want to live with this… remind myself these tablets day after day, my day to day life. I just can't. I, I just couldn't cope.
So I have to go through another whole process of killing myself. It's always there… I started [the medication] first week of March this year. And 2 weeks after they did the blood tests again. They just check if this medication actually is working for me.
Surprisingly my CD4 count from 199 has gone to 219. This is 2 weeks after. My viral load from millions dropped to, I think, about hundred eighty. Was very, very quick. And... Oh God. I was so relieved.
No… As soon as you see, you know, the progress, it made me a bit… quite happier. But I feel I couldn't eat properly. But I'm, I'm religiously taking my medication very carefully every night [sniffs]. Without giving up. A month after, another blood test [pause]. My CD4 count was 2 hundred… 320. This is a month after.
My viral load's undetectable. It was just a month… If I only knew this medication was going to help me this much, all the years I wasted suffering and trying to kill myself… Try to you know… I'm dirty, I'm this, I'm that. And I think I wasted all these years thinking that I'm, I'm worthless. I didn't realise that it... the medication are this effective.