As part of National HIV Testing Week.
Five years ago, I was sat in the waiting room at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Looking around the waiting room trying to keep myself together, fighting back the tears. After what seemed like an eternity, I went in and got my results… I was positive, HIV positive.
I made my way home, skipping the tube and walking slowly in a daze. To be honest, I was in a daze for quite some time. I can’t say exactly how long it took me to get my head round it, but I did.
Becoming HIV positive hit me hard, but that’s because I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t tell a soul for months, keeping it to myself. I was a pressure cooker of emotions, trauma and sadness, telling myself ‘no one will ever love me’.
But the truth is… It gets better. I know that’s one of the most overused sayings but it’s true, it does get better.
Once I confided in people, started talking it through and meeting other HIV positive people, it helped me to start getting my happy back. You do have to let yourself feel what you’re going through, it’s a big thing. But you also have to give yourself the chance to move forward.
You have to allow yourself time to understand what’s going on in your head and in your body.
Since being diagnosed I’ve learnt so much about myself and others. I’ve met some of the bravest, most inspirational people along the way, and it was the start of the career path I’m on today. I’m not surviving, I’m thriving. And you know what, I owe that to becoming HIV positive.
Of course in an ideal world I wouldn’t be, but looking at how much my life has changed and knowing no matter how much I wish it away, it isn’t going anywhere, I genuinely wouldn’t change anything, I’m happy.
I understand the fear of getting tested, but ignorance isn’t bliss.
The sad thing in 2016 is there are so many people not getting tested regularly. An astonishing one in seven gay men are HIV positive and don’t know it. I understand the fear of getting tested, but ignorance isn’t bliss.
Medicine has evolved so much in the last 20 years. I take one pill a day and that’s it, it’s pretty simple. You do have to be more conscious when it comes to sex, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. HIV isn’t the only thing you need to be cautious of.
Don’t be another statistic, go and get tested and know your status.
It’s quite simple to know if you need to be tested… Do you have sex? If you do, you need to get tested regularly.
It’s so easy, you can order a home test kit at startswithme.org.uk and it gets delivered straight to your door, free and simple.
The most important thing to remember – You’re not alone. We’ve come a long way in recent years, don’t let fear, people’s opinions and ignorance get in the way of you looking after yourself. Whatever the result of your test… It’s going to be ok.
For more information on National HIV Testing Week, head over to startswithme.org.uk
If you need help, advice or just someone to talk to there is always someone who will listen.
Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline have online services and a phone number you can call between 10am and 11pm every day – 0300 330 0630
THT direct can offer help and advice on gay sexual health on – 0808 802 1221
Samaritans are always available on the phone to talk phone them on – 08457 90 90 90