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Interview 31

Age at interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 27
Brief Outline: While he did not become very ill with HIV, his GP proposed HIV testing when he had skin rashes in 2000. An early diagnosis meant it was possible for his health to be monitored. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A black African man, married with one child. He has discretional leave to remain in the UK.

More about me...

Age at interview' 32

Age at diagnosis' 27

Sex' Male

Background' A 32 year old highly educated professional, diagnosed in 2000. He is a black African man, married with one child, originally from Africa. 

Outline' A 32 year old highly educated professional. He is a man, married with one child, originally from Africa. He has discretional leave to remain in the UK. While he did not become very ill with HIV, his GP proposed HIV testing when he had skin rashes in 2000. An early diagnosis meant it was possible for his health to be monitored. He only started medication in 2004 when his T cells fell below 200. A Men's HIV support group is central to his wellbeing, as well as religion. He feels that being African and HIV positive makes it very difficult to get work in the UK, and he believes that there are also differences between Africans in the UK making it hard for African's to unite and fight HIV.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

With anti-HIV drugs becoming simplified it makes them easier to take. (Read by an actor.)

With anti-HIV drugs becoming simplified it makes them easier to take. (Read by an actor.)

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Well medication shouldn't be a problem nowadays because the medication has been simplified… if you can imagine, there are very few people who take a lot of tablets a day. These days. Because many, many of these medications have been combined now into like one tablet and so on. 

It used to be difficult in around, say up to, up to around 2000, that's when some people did take up to 20 pills and so on at a go. It was really distressing and worrying. And that's the time when it had so many side-effects like the body redistribution, your tummy, your belly. 

But these days they did a lot of research, the medication is very simple, it's just like an ordinary medicine… They keep on improving everything. 

Yeah it's, yeah, it's just like it's now food, when you start taking it you get used to it.

 

He worried about doing any sport. (Read by an actor.)

He worried about doing any sport. (Read by an actor.)

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Before I didn't want to do sport and everything because I was saying to myself if I get injured or… Yes, I worry about doing too much sport and something happened. But then after I went to the other PCT, what's his name? Primary Care Trust, so they advised me and then I went to a gym and things like that. And I said that I can't do it! I can't run, even five mile, you know, easy. At first I couldn't, I didn't think I could. And you, you don't even want to try, because it's like, oh that's it, that's it. So I wait until my time is up... 

But then now I, [laughter] I have, I'm not thinking about giving in, I am thinking about fighting it. And any way I can. Mentally. Physically. I even ignore it now, I forgot about it, and I go on with my life. I take every day like… sometimes I tell myself, there's a accident, people die. Even still I'm alive. Some die from accident, why should I put myself in all those positions, I should get up and do something for myself.

 

Religion comes first for him and gives him strength. (Read by an actor.)

Religion comes first for him and gives him strength. (Read by an actor.)

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Yeah it is very important, I for one, yeah, religion is number one. Yeah because I believe in, in other powers other than me, and people around me. And so because of that belonging, because of that belief, I always think that this life is a normal life which we are all in, but there's a better life which is coming. 

So, and, and it gives me power to grow spiritually, even when I take whatever I take, food, water, medication. But I know that all those are controlled by a, by a super power, who is God. I can take those and collapse, dead. But as long as God he wants to sustain my life, the medications will work, the food I eat will work, and everything around me will work.

 

Support groups can replace communities for Africans and help people to see a future. (Read by an...

Support groups can replace communities for Africans and help people to see a future. (Read by an...

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You see as far as we are concerned the, we, all of us have got some communities which are like blood related who are living here in the UK. But because of the situation, you find some of us are really rejected in those communities. So the only way to console yourself is to attend this new group and this can… becomes your community. And when you are in it, you feel happy. So you share experiences and, and... as the disease is still new, now most of us realise this thing. 

When we… so many people die, and the way people have died, we thought that at one time that we would go through that kind of thing. But with the help of other people who have gone through, who have lived longer with the situation than you, you get ideas from them and think it's OK, I am going to live longer. 

If somebody comes and say oh I've lived for 20 years on this, but if you… for example if you have only known you have this one for three years you say OK, I still have another 17 years to, to live, and you know. Then you become happy.

Sometimes even you forget about this thing now you, you continue with your normal life.

 

Children should be told about your HIV status when they are mature enough to deal with the news. ...

Children should be told about your HIV status when they are mature enough to deal with the news. ...

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You know disclosing to children it would not really be a priority. But if one feels that it's something that is helpful then you, you can go ahead and tell them. 

Because you know you, you are looking at you know them having a tender mind and also you must think how they will handle it. Just like one of them he mentioned maybe they could pass it over to other friends. But even themselves because you see, they have still education and receive the education which still portrays this illness as a dying illness. 

So if… in apparently a child's mind will know that, my mummy or daddy may be dying. I think it weakens their moral and spiritual health in, mentally and emotionally. They will actually not perform very well in school setting. Because if you look at child psychology, you will discover that they've got different stages in which they can handle certain things. But in a big situation like this one, whereby even elder people like me, who has it , cannot handle it very well, I, I don't see how… a child can, can really handle it… But if disclosing is one way in which you can strengthen them, then do it.

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