In late 2012 I suddenly became ill with a fever and body rash. In the December a blood test confirmed I had HIV.
This was a shock to me as being heterosexual and not engaging in the more “risky” activities HIV was the last diagnosis I had expected. I was stunned as to where I could have picked it up. Eventually I concluded it must have been through “Molly” at the local pub. I never was one to use condoms, after all I don’t even dress for dinner! What ever – now I had the virus and a new chapter in my exciting life was to begin.
Initially I withdrew from my social cycle. After all how could I explain constant sweats and a body rash? It didn’t look good. I spent Christmas 2012 day alone with my little dog.
In January 2013 the Albion Centre put me in contact with Pozhet.
This proved to be a God-send. They in turn put me in contact with people who were in the same situation as me. I could ask questions and get the correct answers, as earlier to my horror I had discovered that many GPs knew very little about the virus and modern treatments. “Just put some honey on your rash” instructed one GP. Yuck, I thought… that would be sticky….and messy. I would rather have dressed for dinner after all!
The keen team at Pozhet encouraged me to be open with these other survivors This was great as my generally happy disposition was now being increasingly submerged by dumb, distractive, even suicidal thoughts….and I didn’t like it!! I had begun to think of myself as “THE VIRUS” instead of a tall good looking guy who just happens to have HIV in his system….and sometimes condoms in his pocket.
At Pozhet I saw people beginning to believe that having HIV doesn’t make them dirty or low-class any more than having diabetes or a heart condition does. People who often for the first time in years began to see hope in their lives. Pozhet….I salute you!!