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Interview 40

Age at interview: 37
Age at diagnosis: 26
Brief Outline: She kept her HIV status secret for many years as she believed this was necessary for her survival. Currently in the UK, she is on a new anti-viral combination and the virus is now undetectable in her blood.
Background: She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1994 when she got tested after a secretary at her work back in Africa became ill with HIV.

More about me...

Age at interview' 37

Age at diagnosis' 26

Sex' Female

Background' A 37 year old black African woman who came to the UK over 2 years ago. She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1994. 

Outline' A 37 year old black African woman who came to the UK over 2 years ago. She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1994 when she got tested after a secretary at her work back in Africa became ill with HIV. She believes she was probably infected 10 years earlier by soldiers who used her for sex. She met a strong woman who headed a HIV charity in Africa who advised her on how to survive HIV in the early days when there was a good deal of ignorance and stigma. She kept her HIV status secret for many years as she believed this was necessary for her survival. She also managed to receive treatment in Africa as part of a research trial. Currently in the UK, she is on a new combination (lamivudine, abacavir and Sustiva) and the virus is now undetectable. She has maintained a positive outlook on life, and wants to help other people cope with their HIV diagnosis.

 

Her partner did not believe she was HIV positive.

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Her partner did not believe she was HIV positive.

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So he was really very serious, but I knew I was positive, I couldn't tell him at that time. I said we must test. He said no I am OK. I said we must. So I took him to a clinic, he did the test and I said I would not do it, you do yours, because mine I had already done it, I know what it is. You do yours. He accepted and and we collected the results, we went out with a colleague for lunch and I put it down. I said I am positive and you are negative. He denied it saying, 'You are not.' Some people find it hard to believe, like me, if you see me now, you wouldn't think I am.

 

The advice she received from a lady in a support group in Africa helped her to remain optimistic...

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The advice she received from a lady in a support group in Africa helped her to remain optimistic...

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So when '94 came in I started work' in '95 I moved to a different office and I carried on. Not a word to anybody, I even started doing my own project, I started building my own house. And yet at that time, you would think why should I do it, I am going to die anyway. Everybody thinks that, you have it and you are going to die. As long as you know that you have AIDS the only thing is death. But I said I am not going to die because of what advice that lady was giving me, you are not going to die. But I do need a house, and I got a plot of land and started building a house. I started doing business as I am doing my office and being happy, getting friends and being happy all the time. Party together. But in my mind I know what I am.

 

A partner removed a condom during sex and she believes it is difficult for women to insist on...

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A partner removed a condom during sex and she believes it is difficult for women to insist on...

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The condoms, you have to be open, honestly. A condom you can't hide. It is' I walk with it in my handbag. That's something I don't mind, I walk with it everywhere I go, because you never know when temptation can take' But there is one thing that happened actually. There's a man where we put a condom on, but in the middle of it, he removed it, and threw it away. I didn't know it, I didn't know it. But I did not dare say the condom was out. He said he doesn't like it with condoms. Now I don't know should' can I tell this man or should I keep quiet? I decided no, I leave it, because it will turn into something else. I tried. I did try. It was his choice. And I brought the condom. I gave it to him, I put it on myself, but in the middle he decided to remove it, so I can't do anything else' The problem is we women in this system, you don't want to add more violence on what you have. You might bring a different one, a stronger one, who will destroy you more, you see? We know what we are' so I don't want to add more violence' More different ones on what I have.

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