The weekend just gone I attended a conference for people living with HIV. I had a wonderful time and felt honoured to even be invited and to share my time with these forward thinking and inspiring people.
During the conference I attended two workshops one about young people living with HIV. I was inspired to hear from people much younger than myself living well with HIV and hearing them express what the issues that they felt young people faced. The second one was all about Sex, how could I resist attending that one, my favourite subject!
During the sex discussion noticed that some issues that I thought were important others didn’t share and issues I hadn’t even considered were mentioned. Almost every person I spoke to gave me something new to think about. I revelled in learning and experiencing other peoples journeys.
I particularly enjoyed meeting other women, of all ages, living with HIV. Some quite newly diagnosed like myself and some who had been living with HIV 20+ years. To share in their stories and experiences and to learn from them. I hope I made some good contacts for the future and maybe even some friends along the way.
I was not surprised to learn that diagnosis of men who have sex with men has gone drastically down in the past few years however the heterosexual 18-25 yr olds has steadily risen. It made me want to be more active within my community and make sure that people, all people no matter their race or sexuality are being tested regularly. I have already called my local clinic and hospital to talk about what peer support they offer. I plan to contact the university to see what they are doing in regards to national testing week. I’m telling everyone I know about U=U (undetectable=un-transmittable/un-infectious) I myself have had issues accepting this. I know that I am not able to transmit the virus to others however I still worry that it will somehow come back to haunt me. Knowing that it has been advertised to the general public this week through news articles in the media gives me an enormous sense of security.
I have been motivated to disclose my status, for the first time to someone that I have had sex with previously. I’m meeting up with him tomorrow. I have thought about this carefully. I’m going to tell ‘The Gay man’. I want to tell him for a few different reasons. Firstly I want him to know because he has become a close friend and because of the charity work I do its a big part of my life and I want to be able to share that with him. Secondly I want him to be aware that its out there. He’s not unaware of HIV or any other STI’s but maybe knowing will mean he’ll be tested more regularly and in turn talk to others about it and they’ll be tested more regularly.
I’ll let you know how it goes and if anyone reads this, wish me luck.