"I always felt I was indestructible and that this sort of thing only happened to others."
I was diagnosed with HIV in 2006 and feel that it could have been handled a bit better. I have often wondered 'why me', I always felt I was indestructible and that this sort of thing only happened to others. I don't feel there has been enough education out there—all I can remember is the adverts from the 80s with the slogan 'don't die of ignorance'.
These days, it's the lack of education that creates the problems and breeds ignorance. I have been quite lucky and have a good supportive network of family and friends. Others are not so fortunate. I now work as a professional in the HIV sector and have empowered myself through learning about my condition.
There still remains, however, stigma and discrimination out there from other professionals and within cultural and minority groups. I am a gay man and have suffered stigma from the gay community such as, 'My god, I can't believe I have slept in the same bed as you!' If we are to tackle the rising infection rates we need to firstly strip away the stigma around HIV.
This can only be achieved through open dialogue and proper understanding. HIV does not rule my life and has not changed who I am. I now have a loving relationship with a HIV negative partner, which in the early days of my diagnosis I never thought would happen.