Life with HIV
I had donated blood at a local clinic in 1991. About 4 months later I got a letter in the post saying I had a transmissible pathogen. I attended the clinic to meet with the doctor accompanied by a parent. The doctor informed us that I was HIV positive.
We couldn’t get our heads around what we were being told. I immediately thought I had been given a death sentence and had a few years left to live. I didn’t think I would make it to 30. I went off the rails for quite a while after my diagnosis and was drinking heavily. I used drink and drugs to cope. I felt I couldn’t be myself because I couldn’t tell anyone outside of my family about my HIV status. I wanted everything to look normal for as long as possible.
There was no counselling or support groups available to me. I was aware of one person who was HIV positive but he was ill and neither of us wanted to speak to each other about our status. I made a decision about 6 years after my diagnosis to leave my homeplace to see a bit of the world. I moved around a lot for the first two years and because I was anonymous I began to talk to people and found that I wasn’t judged. I started to realise that everyone had problems and this helped me to start to deal with my situation.
Sex & Relationships:
For a long time after my diagnosis I had a lot of one night stands. I was always very careful to use protection no matter how drunk or stoned I was. I didn’t allow people to get close to me and became quite detached. I left Ireland to go travelling and started viewing things differently and learned to live with my HIV positive status. I met lots of people who didn’t judge me for being HIV positive.
Before I went travelling I met a girl at my workplace. We were seeing each other regularly before I left but my travel plans were already in place. We kept in touch while I was travelling. I met up with her at various points throughout my travels and felt I needed to tell her. I was falling in love with her and it didn’t feel right not to tell her. She was travelling herself at this time and I flew from Europe to the States to see her. She didn’t know I was coming. On the night I arrived I told her about my status. She reacted by hugging me and telling me not to worry. I had never been able to be so honest with anybody.
We were engaged within two days of telling her about my status. We continued travelling together and married 5 years later. We began to hear about sperm washing…
At this time going on Medication was a very scary thing. I was told by my doctor in Ireland that my blood count was at 230. The tv was on while I was on the phone and within minutes of my hanging up a program started on the tv about alternative treatments for HIV. Within 15 minutes of the program finishing I was in a Chinese Medicine store. I stayed on Chinese medicine for 9 years.