A-Z

Interview 46

Age at interview: 34
Age at diagnosis: 31
Brief Outline: Although her CD4 count was as low as 40 when she ill, it is now 700 and she feels better than ever. Counselling, support groups and staff at GUM clinics have been the most helpful to her. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A 34 year old black African woman who came to the UK from Africa to study for a degree in a health profession, but became very ill and was diagnosed with HIV.

More about me...

Age at interview' 34

Age at diagnosis' 31

Sex' Female

Background' A 34 year old black African woman who came to the UK from Africa to study for a degree, but became very ill and was diagnosed with HIV in 2002.

Outline' A 34 year old black African woman who came to the UK from Africa to study for a degree in a health profession, but became very ill and was diagnosed with HIV in 2002 after her sister suggested she go for blood tests. She also had TB and hepatitis B. After counselling, she felt she had to accept that she was HIV positive, and nothing would change that. Shortly after diagnosis, she began with anti-viral therapy, and the Sustiva gave her disturbing dreams. She is currently taking ddI, atazanavir, and 3TC with no apparent side-effects. Although her CD4 count was as low as 40 when she was ill, it is now 700 and her viral load is undetectable. She feels even more energetic than ever. She assumes her sister knows she is HIV positive, but they have never spoken about it. She will not tell her relatives about her HIV because the information might spread as gossip. Counselling, support groups, staff at GUM clinics and social workers have been the most helpful to her. She is appealing a recent decision to deny her application to stay in the UK on compassionate grounds.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

She couldn't sleep so tried changing the time she took it, and eventually her combination was...

She couldn't sleep so tried changing the time she took it, and eventually her combination was...

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The Sustiva (efavirenz) made me dream abnormally! [Laughter] I dreamed seeing snakes coming to me, I had nightmares. I dreamed seeing my dead relatives… I think maybe it's because I was scared of the medication. 

But it was difficult… Then after, the next morning and the next day again, oh the other thing, I couldn't sleep. Maybe it was the first time, I couldn't sleep the whole night because of the Sustiva or maybe it was my fear I don't know, I only slept in the morning. And when I, in the morning I was feeling very tired. Getting up from bed was hell. Oh, then I phoned my consultant and my clinical nurse to tell them that I had, I was dreaming too much abnormally. They told me that it is the Sustiva. 

Then they told me that I should change the time of taking. Maybe if you take it a bit late, it would help. [Laughter] Yeah I tried that, it… it helped but, maybe it helped halfway because I, I could now dream four days a week [laughter]. Then they changed the Sustiva to another drug. 

Then I was so surprised…. I could sleep just like a normal person. Yes. I really changed. Getting up well, sleeping time, and I was… I wasn't moody because, the dreaming was stressing me very much, I was just a very sad person. I was a very sad person.

 

She initially thought being HIV positive meant dying and so felt hopeless. (Read by an actor.)

She initially thought being HIV positive meant dying and so felt hopeless. (Read by an actor.)

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Then the following morning they came and they told me that I was HIV positive. It was very bad moment for me. Very bad, because I didn't know that I was HIV positive. I was just thinking maybe it's just TB, it's common in…. every way. I feel really hopeless. 

I just feel, knowing, you're told you're HIV, the next thing you just feel that you are like a grave, you're waiting to die. That's… what, that's how I feel. So I as so depressed I couldn't even bother to think about…. I mean anything. Eating no, washing no, even talking. You just feel it's better to die quick, before I suffer much.

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