Today marks exactly one year since I was told that I was HIV positive. At a clinic in Berlin, near to where my boyfriend and I were living last summer, the results came back from a series of blood tests that were done the previous week – one of which was a HIV test.
It’s been an interesting year, I’ve gone from understanding very little about HIV to being (I think) quite well informed and familiar with the virus I’m living with. The initial shock progressed to acceptance, and eventually to the point where I’m now comfortable enough to talk openly about it with friends, family, and total strangers on the internet.
Medically it’s not been plain sailing, I really didn’t get on well with the first combination of antiretrovirals I tried, plus a series of bizarre medical issues and reactions to antibiotics has meant that my immune system is really no stronger today than it was a year ago – but there’s some good news, my current antiretroviral combination has kept the virus suppressed for the last nine months.
On an emotional level, I’m doing okay I think, there are moments that I get down about things, worrying about the effect on my immune system of every cough and cold. I’m someone who usually likes to keep their worries to themselves, but I think one of the reasons I needed to be open about this HIV thing is because there are moments when I really need to know that there are people I can turn to for support. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful boyfriend, amazing family, and although maybe not many friends – there’s a select few that mean a lot to me and I know I can count on to cheer me up when needed :-)
What’s also been lovely is the support from other HIV positive guys I’ve spoken to, usually via twitter, there’s a really amazing sense of community within this group. It feels good to talk to guys who’ve been through a similar experience and understand the sometimes complex mix emotions. It’s also very reassuring to talk to guys who’ve lived with the virus 20+ years and are still fit and healthy.
Sharing my thoughts openly by starting this blog has been a great experience, and has definitely made me feel much stronger and more confident in who I am. So, in to year two…