Around January 2009, I had flu like symptoms, dizziness, night sweats, and a painful dry cough.
I began to feel tightness in my chest, and found it exhausting to walk even the shortest of distances. My GP was bewildered and put it down to work stress.
In March, I experienced difficulty breathing and eventually ended up in the Accident and Emergency Department of the local hospital. I was given a chest x-ray. Blood was taken, and I was told it would be tested for a range of things, including HIV.
Rationally, I knew there was a possibility I might have HIV due to having had unprotected sex previously. But I never thought it would happen to me. I wonder how many people have thought that?!
A few days later, I received the news. I felt numb and disbelieving of it. I was taken to see an HIV doctor. The x-ray taken in A&E was examined again and I was told there was evidence of HIV-related pneumonia. More x-rays were taken and I was admitted to the infectious diseases ward, where I was fed antibiotic by drip. My viral load was high and CD4 cell count was very low.
The doctor told me that if I had left it much longer, there was a high likelihood I’d be pushing up daisies.
I told no-one of my HIV test results. Instead I told friends and family that I was in hospital because of a severe chest infection. Maintaining a front of normality was very difficult. I was discharged from hospital a week later, but was re-admitted due to an adverse reaction to the antibiotics.
A month later I started medication for my HIV. This was a process of trial and error, but I have now found a medication combination that I tolerate well. Within a month of starting treatment, my CD4 cell count rose dramatically and my viral load dwindled to undetectable.
Things are still going well now. I eventually told some select friends and also my family. Telling people was difficult, but I have been lucky. Everyone I have told so far has been supportive. It’s taken me a while to get my head around it, but now I feel I'm in a much better place.
Two years down the line, I’m getting my life back on track. Life goes on!
Read the next story: Lee's story ››
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good to hear your on top off things john, great news about being undetectable, gonna get there myself, i just know it...take care and chin up, all the best colin
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
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HIV Drug Interactions
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