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Interview 30

Age at interview: 45
Age at diagnosis: 40
Brief Outline: He was admitted to hospital with a high temperature and headaches where he was diagnosed with HIV. He negotiated his current treatment regime with his doctor (Kaletra and efavirenz), (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A highly educated health professional working full time. He is a black African man married with children.

More about me...

Age at interview' 45

Age at diagnosis' 40

Sex' Male

Background' A 45 year old highly educated health professional working full time. He is a black African man married with children.

Outline' A 45 year old highly educated health professional working full time. He is a black African man married with children. He was admitted to hospital with a high temperature and headaches where he was diagnosed with HIV in late 2000. His training helped him to cope with the diagnosis, although he was very worried about disclosing to his wife, who was pregnant. He first prepared himself for the worst when telling his wife, who fortunately was supportive, and his wife and unborn child were both HIV negative. Highly educated, he negotiated his current treatment regime with his doctor (Kaletra and efavirenz) and is active in supporting other black Africans with HIV.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

After attending an HIV conference he negotiated with his doctor to change his medication. (Read...

After attending an HIV conference he negotiated with his doctor to change his medication. (Read...

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I looked at the role of, you know the thiamine derivative drugs, you know the, like the AZT, DDI. And I noted that most of them they, they are the ones causing you know, mitochondria DNA toxicity, and to some extent, lipodystrophy. That was my understanding. And of course one of my drugs was that one. 

And in February this year there was, you know the Aids Conference in Boston, and there was one paper which presented to there where was a treatment whereby you can use two drugs minus the thiamine derivative. So when I went in for my appointment with my doctor I said, 'Well look can't we try this?' So it was quite a, a very sort of dynamic discussion, yeah. 

So he said, 'OK we can try it.' Because what we have seen from this paper they presented is that you can actually be on this one and actually the… the effect of long term in terms of lipodystrophy isn't that bad. Although it cannot be completely be reversed. But I think it is the effect isn't that bad for long term. 

So that was sort of looking at, you know the length of time I'll be on the treatment. I said, 'Well that sounds fair.' You know sensible to go for that. Then the, secondly I think the only downside to that combination, two combination, was that I think you ran the risk of having a high cholesterol level. But obviously I said, 'Well I mean it's something I can monitor by what I eat.' So we somehow, between myself and my consultant we agreed.

 

Says that African men tend to go into denial when diagnosed with HIV. (Read by an actor.)

Says that African men tend to go into denial when diagnosed with HIV. (Read by an actor.)

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You find that, if you compare with men, women tend to sort of look inside themselves you know, inside, say well you know, it's their responsibility they are, they are positive. You know that's the nature of women. They try to embrace that concept, and even if they are sort of frustrated or… you know with the an, with the anger, but it's something which they want to express internally. 

And this is demonstrated in many ways, sometimes maybe getting closer to God or something, you know. Because it's something they accept and want to do something about, yeah. And that's the nature of women which is, this is totally different from men. 

When men are diagnosed, at the point of diagnosis, the first thing is to deny. Basically they start looking perhaps 5, 10 years ago. Where? Who was supposed to be responsible? You know. So they forget about how they behaved sexually or what, but they just want to, to point at someone else. 

 

Prepared himself and his wife before he disclosed his HIV diagnosis to her. (Read by an actor.)

Prepared himself and his wife before he disclosed his HIV diagnosis to her. (Read by an actor.)

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I'll tell you one thing. When I was told it was a week before Christmas. Yeah I was actually told on 14th December 2000. That's when I got the results. Now I had two things in mind. I went home, I didn't tell to my wife, because that's the immediate person I had to tell. I knew she was expecting the worst from me, but I didn't tell her. 

I said, 'Well the… what I did is that some of these tests which they have to do the second round so I haven't got the results.' So I had to wait until after Christmas. Yeah. So after Christmas then I tell. And obviously the other thing was to prepare her… And I, I just talked to her and said, 'Well, this is the situation.' And I knew the way she looked at me she, she wasn't shocked as such, but she just said that she suspected that was the outcome so… And again what I did was, because obviously I had expected that she may be in shock or something. But what I did was say, 'OK. I mean if it's…', I advised her actually, I said, 'If it's something you find very hard for you to take it, I wouldn't be sort of surprised if you think of leaving me, because I know HIV is something...'.

And, and then she said well, basically, because actually before we came, we had lost her mum from HIV. So basically, her mum and her young sister. So we lost from our family too, yeah. So basically what she said, 'Well, I've been this, I've been through this before, so why should I run away from you?'

 

Explains how African men's support groups can play a 'magical' role in building men's confidence...

Explains how African men's support groups can play a 'magical' role in building men's confidence...

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And this is one funny thing I've found, men tend to, to sort of look to their peers. So that's where the, the likes of a support group plays a very magical role basically. Because we do tend to get men who perhaps… I mean I've met men who come to our support group who, who are not sure what is next. 

But when they come to sort of the group, where there are other men, you know, they tend to treat that forum more or less like… it can be a religion. You know peer support, some kind of… so that's where they get strength… I mean, when you are a man or a boy in African setting, you know the, the men's club is really a cultural thing… that's where men get their own power, their, their, their inspiration, from their own groups. 

And I think it, it… it, strangely enough, it seems to work quite well in the, you know even here (UK). Because even, you know when you meet men if the men are free then… If you go to a mixed group, where women and men are mixed, men are even shy to talk about their sexuality. How they feel about women. But where they, when they are together, they are very free to talk about sexuality, use of condom and all.

 

Argues that diverse African communities need a more unified response to HIV. (Read by an actor.)

Argues that diverse African communities need a more unified response to HIV. (Read by an actor.)

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And it… unless people wake up and says look, this is a problem for the African community as a whole… And you find that some people can even go to lengths and say well it's, maybe it's racism. I say that's not racism, it's just you as a community, you've got problems yourselves. Once you work out the problems, you know these things, you know, it can work for you. 

So, I mean the community's so diverse in itself… So, so for me in the field it's really frustrating... But it's a shame, I mean for me there is a huge potential for me to explore, but it's just that, to help secure support for, you know to get the right things in the right place. It's, that's what's frustrating.

 

Sometimes people provide excuses to use condoms in relationships rather than disclose their HIV...

Sometimes people provide excuses to use condoms in relationships rather than disclose their HIV...

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One guy who has got, he is positive and he's got a partner who he's not sure whether she's positive or negative. And when he come to see me he said, 'OK do you use protection when... having sex?' I said, 'Yes.'

And he said well because, because actually when he came over here, he came from Africa and then he was diagnosed here. 

Now when the, the girl joined him, the first thing which came on the agenda was the condom. Now they... they were not using condom in Africa. So he was sharing with me he said, 'Well, what, what reason did you give for you for using condoms?' I said, well, I was saying that, 'You know we have to be careful otherwise you'll be pregnant.' And then the problem is he's got difficulty to, to convince her to go for a test. 

But he, he, he has consulted that he'll go for a one quick test at the [support organisation]... so, just to convince. But when we organised a [social support group], which he came with her, he said, 'Well I haven't disclosed to her, but when I came more, you know it's, it made it easier that I'm getting at ease to… one day to discuss it with her.' And that's how it works, yeah.

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