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I am not foolish enough to believe it will be all plain sailing in the future but I can say, for now, it really does get better!

Ok, not the anniversary I would have wanted to celebrate but it was 12 months ago today that I was diagnosed HIV positive...

It's been an interesting journey. I had my second undetectable result last week and my CD4 count was higher on my last bloods than it was on first diagnosis. Here are the things I have learned:

1. It really does get better

The diagnosis is a shock, it is a life changing event, at first it was all I could think of and I never thought I would get over it.

12 months on, there are times when I forget completely that I have HIV, taking the meds is a quick few pills in the evening, it's not that big a deal in my life anymore.

2. The temptation of disclosure

I'm gay, I really *do* drama. Once the initial devastation of diagnosis passed I thought "I have to tell my friends, my family, work" etc etc. I didn't. The moment passed and now I'm glad I didn't.

Disclosure is an intensely personal decision and everyone needs to decide when, and if, the moment is right for them. But I have not told my parents or most of my friends or work simply because, to me, it is not important that they know.

In hindsight, I am glad I made this choice. Everyone must decide whether disclosure is right for them but, my advice, for what it is worth, is let the initial shock and emotional upheaval of diagnosis settle down thoroughly before taking this step.

3. Pill burden

I saw a lot about this when I was first diagnosed.

It takes me 15 seconds to take my four tablets. This is not a burden. It is not even a minor inconvenience considering they are saving my life.

I would imagine in the early days of treatment when medication was taken through the day, had ridiculously shocking side effects and was generally brutal on those who had to endure it then the burden was high. It is much different now.

I bought one of those 28 day pill sorters, I load it up each month, when tablet time comes round I pop open one of the little doors, take my pills and that's it for another day.

4. Clinics

I had a bit of a rocky relationship with my consultant through the first few months of appointments and treatment. Things aren't perfect, but it is an evolving relationship. I was going to change hospitals but the convenience of access outweighed the irritation of not having the kind of care I wanted.

Consultant aside, the nurses, reception staff and visiting trainee specialists have all been absolutely fantastic, really, the highest standards. So, the lesson I have learned: decide what is important to you and work on the things that can be changed. 

5. Health

It has taken me till now to really feel like I have all my energy back, close to the levels it used to be. Now I am managing a full days work without coming home feeling destroyed and am back at the gym.

Also I have learned not to put every cold, ache and pain down to HIV!

So, that is a brief(ish) summary of where I am. 12 months down the line, feel well, feel optimistic for the future and am beginning to be comfortable with who I am going forward.

I am not foolish enough to believe it will be all plain sailing in the future but I can say, for now, it really does get better!

share your own story of hiv 

Next story: Stephen ››



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This article was last reviewed on 23/7/2012 by Juan Martinez

Date due for the next review: 22/8/2012

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