HIV and Motherhood

I often get asked what it means to be a mother with HIV and honestly, I never knew how to answer that question. I never felt that my HIV had any relevance when it came to my parenting.

I’ve always told the women I meet and mentor that my daughter knows I have a thing called HIV and that I take a pill everyday for it and she accepts that. Well she did up until the other night that’s when she started to ask lots of questions about why I take a pill and what HIV is.

When she was three she asked me what my pill was and I said to stop me from getting poorly. She’d seen other family members like her grandparents take pills regularly so she accepted that explanation. When I did some interviews for radio and TV last year she asked ‘Mummy, what’s HIV?’. I said ‘You know the pill Mummy takes to stop her getting poorly, that’s why, I have HIV and need a pill for it’, that she accepted also.  Now she’s nearly 6 and telling her what I’ve already told her is not enough anymore, she wants more details.

Firstly she asked why I take a pill, to which I replied I have HIV, she asked when will it be gone and I can stop taking the pills. I explained that it doesn’t really work like that and I’d have to take them forever. This is when she started to cry and that’s when I started to think that it would be easier to have not let her know about my HIV. Easier maybe, but not better.

She’s at an age where she’s thinking about life, death, family and her place in the world. In her world she knows that having a virus means that you’re poorly. She wants to know details about HIV but she’s not quite got the comprehension yet to understand the details. Asking questions about where it came from, how did I get it, can children have it etc etc.  We had a cuddle, I explained all I could, showed her all my boxes of medication so she was reassured that I wouldn’t run out and managed to turn it around and we were giggling before bed, but it wasn’t the end of it.

A day or so later she asks my friend to explain to her how people get HIV, I guess my explanation of ‘you wouldn’t quite understand just yet’ wasn’t good enough but my friend said something that really made her accept she won’t know until she’s older. The conversation went like this;

My friend: You know how you can do maths at school?

Daughter: Yes, I can do sums, we did our two times tables this week.

My friend: You know James, (a 2yr old we’re very close with) does he know his two times tables?

Daughter: No he’s too little.

My friend: He’s too young to understand his 2 times tables, isn’t he?

Daughter: Yes.

My friend: Well it’s a bit like that, we could explain to you all about HIV but you’re too little to understand just yet. Just like you could tell James his times tables but there wouldn’t be much point would there?

Daughter: Ok I get it so you could tell me but I wouldn’t understand like James doesn’t understand maths. Are you going to tell me when I can understand? When will that be? when I’m like 10 or 11?

Me: We’ll have to wait and see but I’m guessing around then.

Since that conversation she’s not brought it up again. I’ve noticed she asks me if I have taken my pill a little more often than she used to but that’s all so far.

I’m extremely grateful for my friend who was able to explain things in a way to her that she understood and accepted. It really helped to have things explained in a different way by a different person, calmly and clearly. I admit I was a little emotional trying to explain to her about it all. I didn’t visibly get upset but I went a bit too far along the route of ‘don’t worry’ and ‘mummy is going to be fine’ than thinking about the best way to explain a complicated matter to her. She still doesn’t know how someone gets HIV because she still doesn’t need to know. I will now plan what to say in the future depending on her age.

I have nothing but respect for the mothers and fathers who tell their children about their HIV when they are already old enough to have formed an opinion about what HIV is, that must be very hard. I feel lucky that HIV happened to me when she was so young that me becoming sick from it will not be a part of her memory. It may be hard to explain to her about these things, but I think in the long run I’ll be glad I did it this way.



I’m hungry. Its 13.09 and I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch. At first this was not intentional, it was a product of a child refusing to get dressed and an early appointment I needed to attend. But now its very much intentional.

My appointment was my 6 monthly check up. When taking my weight I noticed that it has risen to what it was before I was sick. I swore to myself that I would never be back at this weight, and the disappointment in myself washed over me. Followed by the shame and the guilt of having letting the me from three years ago down, that and it may be effecting my blood pressure now.

3 years ago me was at a healthy weight. The HIV had ravaged my gut and caused a dramatic weight loss. I was a size 12 and secretly, I loved the way I looked. But I didn’t really let myself love it because of how I got there. Also because I was still seen by some as fat I didn’t appreciate the massive change my body went through.

Now my body seems like it is more fat than anything else.

I know that a successful healthy lifestyle doesn’t involve being to anxious to eat until the hunger overtakes and you eat shrouded by shame at being a failure for letting the food pass your lips. But I don’t know how else to be.

Because that’s what it feels like when you have a problem controlling your intake of food. Every bite comes with guilt and shame. So much so that it starts to not matter what that bite is of. If its a bite of a healthy refreshing apple or a fattening, salty packet of crisps, the way it feels to eat them becomes the same. The only difference being that if you eat the fat and the sugar and the salt afterwards you feel comforted for a while, where with the healthier food, you still feel hungry. But the shame is there regardless.

I don’t think people who don’t have issues with food can quite understand how it feels to get that anxiety every time food is around, which in case you haven’t noticed, is all the time. When I’m around food I get the same carousel of negative thoughts, if I take a second biscuit at this meeting will people be judging me? Everyone else has eaten more than me so its OK for me to eat now. If I eat at home no one is going to know what I eat so its safer.

When I know I don’t have something comforting to eat at home I panic, I get anxious and can’t think straight. This doesn’t stop until food has been bought or eaten.

I was upset by the weight gain for letting myself down. I no longer believe that my weight is a measure of my self worth. I know there is much more to me than that. I know that my weight does not hinder my sex life, there will always be people who don’t find fat people sexually attractive, but everyone has preferences including myself, so it doesn’t bother me. I don’t want my weight to have negative impacts on my health that influences my quality of life.

I feel heavy. I feel weighed down burdened by my fat. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to food. Nothing brings me more comfort and nothing brings me more shame. I want to be able to replace my hunger with something else.


I know that this blog is now not completely anonymous, its linked to my public twitter and I sort of knew people I knew would read it. Recently its made me question whether I want to continue writing openly like I do about my personal life, feelings and the sex that I have. I’ve been wondering if I should delete it, or move the content to an different anonymous name. Then I thought fuck it, writing this helps me and the positive feedback I get from it informing and helping others is all the encouragement I need to carry on.

Anyway to the theme of this post. Recently I told a friend of mine that I need to stop hanging out with gay men as I fear its hurting my love life. However if I stop hanging out with gay man it would severely hurt my social life. Since my split from D I’ve noticed that I have a small amount of friends. I love my friends and my closest ones are my family and what keep me going day to day. However they are also mostly mums and married or attached. I don’t have a female friend locally who is single and no one who is a single mum. I find it hard to find someone to talk to who I can relate to.

The only people who have offered me their friendship since my  divorce are gay men and to those I have become friends with they have given me something I desperately needed, friends who wanted to know me and me alone, which I was never sure of before with my husband. I’m very grateful for them. Through my volunteering work and online I’ve met a lot of people, some who I’ve become friends with but not many. My friendship circle before my ex-husband and I split up was almost exclusively friends we had together, with whom I’m mostly not in touch with anymore. The thing is you know who gay men tend to hang out with, more gay men. The more I expand my social circle the more gay men I meet. I don’t expect every interaction I have to be a way to meet a eligible men, but my opportunities are generally thin on the ground and not getting any thicker!

When I go out and am in LGBT+ friendly spaces I generally feel like an outsider, I went to a queer party recently and felt very un-welcomed by the people around me. When I’m in “straight” spaces I don’t feel I fit in, like I have to hide a big part of me and my interests. Like I’m not gay enough for the gay spaces but not straight enough for the straight. I wish that the two sides of my life could merge a bit more.

This is all creating a bit of unrest within me. Now I’ve made it no secret on here that I’m generally more attracted to Bi men, if I’m in a room full of people more often than not I’ll annoyingly find the only gay man and fancy him and plan our imaginary life together before I realise that he’s gay. I’m starting to think this attraction is more than just a product of circumstances.  I fancy gay men because they are unattainable because if they are unattainable from the start then I can never be properly hurt by them. Sure it sucks pining over someone who will never want you, but that’s easier to deal with than someone not wanting you.

I don’t want to limit myself and not put myself out there to make friends or seek romance because I’m scared of being hurt again. But its hard to know where to begin. Maybe I should join a club of some kind. I work away from home so often now and when I’m not working away, I have my daughter. I feel I need to be more proactive and make better plans, get out of my comfort zone.

You know when people say “I have plans with the girls tonight” I want that, I want lots of fun plans with the girls.

Ghost Town

“This town (town) is coming like a ghost town….”

The more I reveal my HIV status to people who I’m interested in dating the more isolated I feel.

I’ve talked often in other posts that I haven’t faced any stigma once I’ve revealed my HIV status to someone but the longer I’m single, the more I face. When I look at it realistically I wasn’t open about it at all when I started dating again. I can only talk about online dating as it’s the only kind I do, I never really meet new single people to ask out in any other circumstances. Let me paint you a picture of how it usually goes. We have a few flirty introductions followed by some typical getting to know each other questions. This is when the conversation takes one of three paths 1) it fizzles into nothing as there was not actually any real connection there. 2) They ask me if I want to fuck. 3) We get on and continue to chat and flirt and exchange numbers.

To be honest its right at the start of a spark with someone I start to think about when I might bring up my HIV. I wholeheartedly wish it didn’t play on my mind like that, because I believe that it shouldn’t matter. I believe that it shouldn’t matter when I tell someone about it, I should do it when I’m damn well fucking ready to. But my experience tells me otherwise. Anyway I digress…

Scenario number two I’d have to say is the most common occurrence, followed by number 1 and very rarely number 3. I’ve been trying something new recently, once numbers have been exchanged and we have arranged a date I’ve been steering the conversation towards my status. It’s not that difficult, I usually bring up work or ask what they like to do in their spare time. In both circumstances so far they’ve always then asked me back and I bring up my HIV work or my volunteering. That’s when I usually tell them. In the one message I say my status, that I’m on medication and undetectable and that being undetectable means I cannot pass it on. I say that I’m telling them because I want them to know about my life and not because I feel under any obligation to. I send a link to an article I did which tells my story and that if they have any questions to please ask me.

So far I’ve always been met with silence. We’d have been having a flowing conversation with almost instant replies then nothing. I leave it for a while then later on or the next day I ask them about it. I still haven’t had anyone be openly rude, I’ve had a few passive-aggressive comments such as “well I’ve always been really really careful” but nothing worse. A few have asked questions, a few just avoid the subject all together, but they all have something in common. They all seem to become incredibly busy after finding out my status. No longer do I get instant replies, I get the double blue tick but no response that or a cursory “yeah” or “lol”.

I have been careful to tell this information after we’ve established we’re looking for more than a hook up and have arranged a date, so I know that they’re actually interested. The date never happens. Like I said, they get really busy. I’ve never actually met up with anyone I’ve told about my HIV when it has been in a dating situation. I usually ask if they still want to meet up and they say yes, but they can’t do the original date we planned, and they’ll let me know when they’re free again. I attempt conversation again over the next week or so but it never goes anywhere. A couple have arranged a date then ghosted me on the evening it it was supposed to take place. Like the title of this post suggests, ghosting is what I receive after I tell someone about my status.

I’m well aware that people get ghosted all the time, I’m not the only one it happens to nor do I think my HIV status should offer me some kind of special treatment. But I suppose my little experiment was testing the waters to see what kind of reaction I’d get. I know I don’t have to tell people about my status but I want to, I want to normalise it, I want to have those conversations with people, to quell some fears maybe lessen some stigma. It’s not in me to hide that part of me to a potential partner. But telling people is so isolating a part of me just wants to keep it quiet for longer so at least I’d get to enjoy a date or two before they ghost me. To be honest I don’t know which is worse, all I know that its pretty shit the way I’ve been doing it currently.

Friends and acquaintances  like to offer their opinions of “better off without them” when I talk about this. I know deep down that it is a good filter, to find out who’s decent. But so far no one is, no one I’ve spoken to is willing to see past it. People who once said things like “you’re lovely”, “I can’t wait to meet” and “We’re going to have a lot of fun”. People who have read the articles and researched what U=U is. People who are smart and educated, people who describe themselves as “open-minded” and “liberal” won’t see past my status.

And I still get so angry. Angry because its not ignorance, its a choice. I’m angry because people are choosing to hold onto their stigmas. Choosing to not accept facts. Choosing to not meet me after revealing my status because they believe that by having HIV somehow makes me not worthy of their time anymore and I’m sick of it. Just sick of explaining myself over and over to only to be rejected as a result of being open.

There’s no nice conclusion here. I’ll let you know when I come to one.

Fighting the good fight.

Does anyone else get the feeling that they’re always second string, the other option, the one someone calls when the actual person/plans that they had have fallen through? I’ve been feeling this lately.

I think that my sudden bouts of insecurity have been fulled by a few different things going on in my life but the main reason is because I’ve getting into arguments about HIV online and facing the overwhelming and massive stigma that still surrounds it.

I’m aware that I live in a bubble full of positive people who own their status and who are up to date with the latest HIV science. However  I didn’t realise just how ignorant and unwilling the rest of the world is to change. Over the past few weeks, taking about HIV with people who are only there the demonise those living with it has opened my eyes. It has made me angry and has made me seek out more stories and discussions to find the discussions to hopefully interject some knowledge into peoples lives. Its been like slamming my head against a brick wall.

The discussions usually follow the same pattern, I start fairly open and basic, usually explaining U=U, can’t pass it on, regular testing, treatment, very few and minor side effects bla bla bla. These are always argued and disputed, very negatively asking me what do I know and how do I prove that. I follow up with a few links to websites, I say I’m living with HIV and work in the sector. At best the responses I get are “well that may be true, but you never know, so I wouldn’t trust anyone who’s got HIV” to being called a slut, that I should “stop taking loads in my ass” (redundant advice at this stage!) and finally by someone who claimed to be a doctor said to me “I can’t believe they let you see HIV patients to spread these lies”. The first time the negative comments came I responded……..boy did I learn my lesson…….I had to stop checking my notifications and actively delete any comments/messages before reading. For every positive comment from someone there were 20 negative ones.

This is damaging. These opinions are harmful. I sought the discussion out but these ignorant people managed to turn someone who was living confidently into someone who was ashamed again, into someone who felt cheated by life and dirty.  People say to me, you shouldn’t let it get to you, they’re ignorant, more fool them. I have great support from my friends and family and from the people I’ve met through my mentoring work,  I have that system in place. So when I have been turned from someone who was happy to speak out to someone who feels like shes not worthy enough to bring herself into the discussion anymore I have them to help bring me back. To help life me up again.

But what about the people who don’t have that? The people who are alone, the people who get lost in the online world of hate and stigma because there own experiences have taught them to hate themselves for whats happened? Where do they go? Many people living with HIV live below the poverty line. I generally only ever hear “positive” positive voices from people who don’t live around here and from people who work in the sector.

I attend a local support group. When I’m there I just want to smile and cheer the room up. I tell funny and sassy stories and about me I tell them about the interviews I do. I think I’m the loud one that always tries to question everything and put a positive spin on things. I do this because out of the attenders I am one of a number I can count on one hand that is open about their status. Most live in shame, isolation and fear. Their families don’t know they’re attending a HIV group, most make up other excuses as to where they are. Some of these have been living with HIV for decades and only told partners or one or two close friends. The stigma and negativity they have received over the years is massive, they feel it can’t be undone. I’m doing everything I possibly can to help, even if its just for an hour, once a week.

Its not enough though. Empowerment through peer support is vital. Public education about HIV needs to happen. Millions of peoples lives could be vastly improved the world over if it was done right.

I have nothing but admiration, great respect and awe for the long term diagnosed who have lived through times when the stigma was far worse, who are still fighting for change, fighting for improvements and for better lives for those living with HIV. I don’t know how you do it, I hope that I find a similar strength to keep going on with it all.

3 years

It doesn’t matter how or when or with whom. I am a strong believer of that. I believe that down to my core. But I do know who and when and how…..

3 years since the first incident of unprotected sex with the person who gave it to me. Literally the day my life changed, for more than one reason. I remember the date quite significantly. It affects me more than my diagnosis date. I’m coping better than last year. I’ve only been close to tears on a couple of occasions. I learnt today that if you’re 100% completely determined to get pissed and not think about what happened then your good friends will support you and stand by you whatever.

This time three years ago I was on cloud nine (see teenage dream), it was a mini heat wave then as well. I can’t really put into words the emotions I’m feeling about it all. I hope that someday in the future this day just passes me by without another thought. But for now I’m glad there is only an hour left of it. I can move on again just like I have every other day.

Time heals all………eventually.

Mixed Up.

Emotionally, I’ve had a mixed weekend. I’ve felt very alone and have been pining for a connection with someone.

I don’t usually play the blame game concerning HIV and my ex boyfriend but this weekend thoughts of “how could he do that to me” have gone around and round. He left me with several medical and personal issues that I have to deal with daily. I’ve been cursing my status, my weight, my depression, my high sex drive. Basically everything, everything that makes up me. I’ve had a lot of anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t usually effect me much overall so I’ve been searching my mind for reasons why I’m feeling like that.

I was in church for a friends baby’s christening. I’ve never been a member of a church but from my point of view I would call this one modern. It’s casual, they’re happy for children to run around and play during songs, they have modern themes and references in their preaching etc. I like singing in public and rarely got the opportunity to do so, so I was singing along to the new modern songs (no ‘all things bright and beautiful’ there!) and generally having a good time.

But me being me I spotted an attractive young man sat on the opposite side of the church, alone, singing and then praying. My mind wondered, as it does. But this time not to all the naughty places it usually does but to what it would be like to spend time with this man, talking to him, getting to know him, cuddling up to him. It’s been a reoccurring theme with me this week since Bi Guy.

I masturbated  the other day with no porn, no filthy scenarios played out in my head but instead thinking about making love to someone, have them over me in missionary position (one I never really do much because of its intimacy) having them looking at my face as they cum and shudder above me. Feeling a proper connection with someone is something I’ve shied away from feeling in my sexual encounters. Because my track record has shown me that when you start to connect, you start to get feelings and that’s when I get hurt, right? I mean its happened every other time I’ve had feelings for someone. My brain is protecting my heart based on the lessons I’ve learnt from past relationships, because when I connect I can’t control my emotions as much.

This all bubbled to the surface in church after the children had left to go and play. It was during one of the worship songs my heart beat increased and I started to cry, overwhelmed with emotion. My friend tried to explain that through my singing and worship, God was speaking back to me. When I don’t believe in any God I find that a hard concept to accept, but if not that then what? What made me react like that?

I think it was singing about love, unchanging, no matter what happens, love. Something that I’m yearning to receive from a partner. I experience love everyday, through my daughter, my friends and family. But I want that different kind of love a love shared in mutual attraction and from wanting them to be present in my life and me in theirs, always. Love where I can be open, share things about myself and have them still be there.

So far I haven’t been able to share my status and interest in sex with anyone and have them want a relationship with me. I stand by that I’ve never had a upfront negative response to me sharing my status. But neither have I had acceptance into a new relationship. Now I know that healthy relationships take time and it’s very possible that I haven’t met anyone simply because I’ve not met anyone compatible. 18 months is not that long being single. But will this fear ever go? The fear that if I reveal all of myself to someone they will simply run away? The difference between me now and me 3 years ago is that 3 years ago, before I met my ex boyfriend I was willing to change myself and hide bits of myself to suit someone else, because I needed someone else to function properly, to not be lonely. Whereas now I’m not willing to, I want someone to take me as I am. But it seems impossible, it seems like an impossible task when every man I meet/ talk to manages to mention their dicks or how horny they’ve been within the first hour of conversation. Sorry, I didn’t mean this to turn into a man bashing post!

Anyway I digress, the attractive man left as soon as the service finished and I doubt I’ll see him again. But I must say it was nice to see a man who was an obvious gym bunny (he had all the muscles!) interested and passionate about something other than himself. I’m trying not to over generalise, of course people who love the gym have other interests and are not all self absorbed but unfortunately not many I’ve met to or what is portrayed in the media.

I’ve had a hard week both physically and mentally. I’m hoping for a brighter week, in all areas, next week.