£25 helps provide community support for someone with HIV who feels alone and isolated.
£50 helps fund our national helpline to provide support to people in need of help.
£100 helps run a peer support group for mothers with HIV.
£10 a month helps us provide free and accessible HIV and STI testing.
£15 a month helps pay for counselling for people newly diagnosed with HIV.
£25 a month helps fund our national helpline to provide support to people in need.
My name is Ben. I’d like to tell you what happened to me, but I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you my story because the organisation that saved my life needs funding so that other people won’t have to go through what I did.
Across the UK today, every 90 minutes somebody is diagnosed with HIV. They are male and female, straight and gay. Some are even younger than me. They are often victimised and cast out of their families, jobs or communities because of the terrible ignorance and stigma that still surrounds HIV.
I’d thought the world was my oyster. I was waiting to finally join the Army. I was going to make something of myself. But then, everything fell apart.
I’d been feeling run down for a while and my doctor suggested a blood test. I’ll never forget the consultant’s words when I went to get my results: 'You have tested positive for HIV.'
I walked home in a daze. How could I tell my mum and dad and little brother? I imagined the looks on their faces; the pity, the disappointment and the anger. There was no way I could tell them.
Having to give up on the Army made things difficult with my family. They didn’t understand why, and I couldn’t tell them. I thought the best thing to do was to cut myself off from them, there was no way I was going to be a burden to anybody.
I did tell some close friends who I thought would support me. But then one day I returned home to find abusive threats painted on my front door, saying hateful, vicious things and threatening to kill me. I was really scared and felt like I couldn’t trust anybody.
I got so low that I seriously thought about killing myself. I was 24 and felt like I’d been handed a death sentence. I was completely on my own and didn’t know where to turn. It was only when, back at hospital for a follow-up visit, I picked up an information leaflet by Terrence Higgins Trust that I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
A few days later I called their helpline THT Direct. The guy who answered was fantastic; I can’t tell you what a relief it was to talk to somebody who was sympathetic and supportive and who made me see that I did still have a future.
He told me about a local peer support group that Terrence Higgins Trust ran. At first I couldn’t imagine talking to a room full of strangers. But I decided to give it a go, after all what did I have to lose?
I wasn’t the only one who was scared, the only one who’d thought about suicide. I was among people who weren’t going to judge me. I was among friends. I learnt a lot as well. There are so many myths about HIV, so it was an enormous relief to hear the truth about the medications, what my rights were and what the future might hold.
I hate to think there are other people out there going through right now what I did then, without the support of Terrence Higgins Trust.
Today I’ve found a way to carry on. I still have bad days, the side-effects of the medication can be horrible - lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea. But Terrence Higgins Trust helped me to turn a corner. I may have had to give up on my dream of a life in the Army but now I’m training to be a teacher. I love it and I have a future.
£100 could help fund a life saving peer support group like the one I attended.
£50 could help fund THT Direct – the first sympathetic voice I’d heard for weeks.
£25 today can help produce more information leaflets, like the one I saw.
Please make a donation now.
You can also donate by calling 020 7812 1612 or sending a cheque to our King's Cross Office. Please mark any envelopes 'FAO Supporter Care Officer'.
Find out what we'll do with your money to change the lives of people living with HIV.
Copyright 2017 © Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (reg. no. 288527)
Company reg. no. 1778149 and a registered charity in Scotland (reg. no. SC039986). Registered office: 314-320 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8DP.