'I’ve been diagnosed for two years, I found out after a partner went into hospital with cancer, he had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.'
When they did an HIV test it transpired he was positive and subsequently had infected me (we’d only had unprotected sex once - who would have thought it).
Unfortunately his lymphoma did not respond to treatment and he passed away just five months after being diagnosed with HIV and cancer.
I decided to make changes to my life. I got a dog for company and exercise, reduced my working hours to a manageable amount and asked my doctor to start treatment early. My viral load was only around 4000 when I started treatment, but my CD4 was around 450. I wanted to start treatment as I wanted to take charge of the illness and get on with my life. The doctors in Brighton were excellent and agreed.
One and a half years later, I am on my third load of drugs - as I had side effects to others, my CD4 is in the 600s and have been undetectable for the whole time. I have never felt healthier.
I have also met a new man who is negative but who is totally un-phased by the HIV thing. He is so supportive, loving and he has encouraged me to try different things. Thanks to him I now enjoy sailing, trained up and got my RYA 2 Yachting. I also enjoy waterskiing and have tried windsurfing. This year he took me skiing and after a shaky start I now enjoying that.
Before I was HIV+ I would never have tried any of the above, but it has made me realise that life is too short and that we should enjoy every minute. I am not saying I found it easy. I cried on and off for weeks at the beginning. Got very angry with myself and my late partner. Felt ashamed, lonely, isolated - and downed a few bottles of wine to get me though it.
My family, good friends and my doctors (both GP and HIV) have helped me considerably. They let me have my off days and were there if I needed to chat.
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Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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