Archive for the ‘HIV’ Category

I had an interesting conversation with a very special friend of mine this week.  He expressed regret about not starting a relationship with me a number of years ago.  He believes that if we had started a relationship I would not have contracted HIV, or experienced some of the more frustrating events in my life over the last few years…

Whilst I found this opinion incredibly sweet, it also distressed me somewhat.  We were always very close.  I would like to think that we still are and it saddens me that he can look back and regret a decision that was the right one at the time – especially considering a relationship was never even discussed or really sought after at the time.

They say hindsight is 20/20 however I think that in this case it has been distorted by this person wanting to be an amazing friend and take some of the pain out of my life.  I am so incredibly blessed to have this kind of friend.

I have been through some difficult experiences in the last few years, HIV being only one of them.  But I am not regretful of any of them. Each and every experience has allowed me to grow as a person and learn something new about life.

So to my dear friend, I thank you for looking out for me and always providing me with love and support.  But please don’t regret the past, I am thankful for it…  Life is a journey, and I would rather focus on the road ahead, rather then what has passed by.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to reflect back – that is what the rear-view mirror is for. But never regret.  The scenery was great, I learnt many things – things that will help me move forward with life and that is what I am thankful for.


A must read for HIV-positive travellers

Posted: July 11, 2010 by Jesse in AIDS, HIV
Tags: , ,

So I am headed overseas in just under 6 weeks now… and it kind of got me thinking about the restrictions and bans that some countries have on HIV-positive people crossing their borders.  Now that I have my passport, and am going on my first international holiday as an adult, I am starting to get the drive to be looking at other international destinations.

I was already aware that some countries have bans, and that others have some restrictions and I was kind of glued to the news earlier in the year when the Unites States of America lifted their ban on HIV-positive people entering the country.  I thought I would jump online and do some investigating on what sort of restrictions were still in place and stumbled upon HIV travel, a fantastic resource for any HIV-positive traveller.

When I was diagnosed, I asked the clinic for any information brochures they had on HIV to help with my research and understanding of this disease.  One brochure they gave me was a resource on travelling with HIV that was published in 2008.

I was originally quite confused that the countries identified in the brochure as having entry bans are mostly different from the ones identified on the website listed above.  However after searching the ones identified in the brochure it became clear that whilst visiting these countries there are either no declaration of status required, no proof of test required and generally speaking you can be in the country for a designated amount of time before having to obtain a HIV test (usually for residency).

Some examples of this are:


Whilst there is no mandatory testing for short-term stays, people who are known to be HIV positive are prohibited from entering.  If applying for a work and residence permit a HIV test is compulsory.  If HIV infection is detected, the person is immediately reported to authorities and expelled.


There are no regulations regarding the entry of people with HIV/AIDS, however AIDS laws allow the deportation of HIV foreigners.

United Arab Emirates

Short-term stays are permitted however HIV medication cannot be imported. If applying for work and residence permit a HIV test will be required. This test must occur in the Emirates and residence will be denied if the result is positive. People with HIV may also be deported.

(Please note that airline passengers in transit through Dubai are not affected be these regulations).

It was fantastic to see that as at the 4th January 2010 there are no restrictions on HIV positive people entering the United States of America.  I have since decided that my next overseas vacation will be Canada, USA and Mexico. Where as previously I was disheartened to make this trip due to the restrictions/bans associated with traveling there as a HIV-positive person, it is now great to see that I will be able to make this trip and it is something I am really looking forward to!

There are a number of countries that have contradictory information regarding travelling as a HIV-positive person, so I recommend that if you are planning an overseas trip make sure you do some research to ensure you are not going to have any dramas upon arrival.  This is especially relevant to those who will require medication on their travels as some countries have restrictions on types and/or quantity of medication they allow to cross their borders.

As you will see if you visit the website (which I hope you do), the vast majority have limited restrictions to HIV positive travellers, and more often the restrictions or conditions are only relevant if seeking residency.

I did find Australia’s position on this topic rather interesting.


There are no restrictions for tourists, however HIV testing is still required for permanent visa applicants when the applicant is over the age of 15.  Permits of residency will only be granted to a HIV positive person who meets the following criteria

People with HIV may immigrate to Australia if one of the following criteria is met:

  • If he/she has a spouse (including a de facto spouse) who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she has a fiancé who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she has a long-term same-sex relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • If he/she is the dependent child of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Being a former Australian citizen
  • Being a refugee

People applying on one of the above grounds still have to satisfy the Australian authorities that they will not

  • Prejudice the access of Australian citizens to healthcare facilities
  • Be a risk to public health or safety
  • Constitute an undue cost to the Australian community.

Satisfying the first two criteria is not a problem for people with HIV, but they are sometimes refused permission to immigrate because of the cost of their health care.  Costs are assessed for each individual applicant, based on his/her life expectancy and on an estimate of the total cost of the medication and of the hospital and other medical care services the person might require.  It appears to the AFAO that this criterion is being enforced more harshly, and that more people with HIV are now being refused permission to immigrate because of the estimated costs of their healthcare, than was previously the case.

I find it of particular interest that Australian authorities will recognise same-sex relationships in this circumstance, but still deny recognition of same-sex relationships in an overall legal manner (marriage/civil union).  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is fantastic that same-sex relationships are recognised in the situation outlined above, just a bit odd that we don’t have the legal recognition of this partnership for those that wish to… I may just save that for another post.

Please feel free to add your own sources of information or opinion on this topic. I understand there are many different views and opinions, all of which are valid and welcomed.

A note from Kelly

Posted: July 5, 2010 by Kelly in HIV
Tags: , , , , , ,

Following on from Jesse’s post about disclosing his diagnosis to friends and family, I thought I would share my experiences as being a friend on the receiving end of the news.

But first a little background.

I had heard quite a bit about Jesse long before I ever met him.  He had a reputation at work for being a bit of a ‘go-getter’ – conscientious, hard-working and well-respected.

When I moved from one of our outer-lying locations to the main office, I got the chance to meet this person I had heard so much about – and he was nothing like I the person I had imagined!  From the things I had heard I was expecting someone older, more mature and much less outgoing!

For whatever reason we hit it off pretty much straight away.  When I moved to the desk next to his things just got better.  I got the chance to be friends and not just colleagues with Jesse.

It wasn’t a great deal of time after this that I had some health problems that required many, many trips to the hospital, doctors appointments and various specialists.  During this time Jesse kept my spirits up.  He helped out with my work to ensure things didn’t fall too far behind and he constantly made me laugh with his tongue-poking, paper-throwing, paper clip giving and general crazy behaviour.

Although I was focused on my own issues, I was aware that Jesse was due for his regular health check and was relieved when he told me a few days later that everything was good.  But then I missed a few days of work.  When I returned the usually chirpy, easy-going Jesse had disappeared and in his place was a short-tempered being who had withdrawn somewhat and was reluctant to partake in the usual shenanigans of our corner of the office.

I did ask him at one point if there was anything wrong and if there was anything that I could do, and I got a reasonably blunt answer of, “You’ve had your health issues, now I have mine”.  A little taken aback I thought it best to leave Jesse alone and was confidant that he would share whatever was bothering him in his own time.

After a few days I started to suspect what was going on with Jesse.  I started putting two and two together and I was coming up with four – but I was hoping that I was wrong.

In the end Jesse did eventually tell me what was going on.  He confirmed my suspicions that there was a problem with his test results and that he had been diagnosed as HIV positive.

Now, I don’t know what kind of reaction Jesse was expecting because he did look at me a bit funny after he told me.  For my part, I had already come to my own conclusion and had thought about it for a couple of days before Jesse disclosed to me.  So I had had time to process the information and adjust to the news before I had even heard it.

At first I was devastated for Jesse.  I wanted to rant and rave about how unfair it was that such a vibrant young man should contract this disease.  I remember talking to my partner about my suspicions and again when they were confirmed.  On both occasions we were left saddened at the thought.

But in the end I took my lead from Jesse.  On the outside he was dealing with the news with amazing courage and dignity.  I figured that if Jesse wasn’t falling apart then I too should be strong.  I had so many questions I wanted to ask.  I still do.  I have to admit I am somewhat ignorant about the disease.  I had read April Fool’s Day but apart from that I knew nothing about HIV or AIDS (except of course that Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury had both died from it!).

In the year since then our friendship has grown.  Jesse has had his good days and his bad days.  His highs and his lows.  But in the last few months there has been a change.  Jesse has started to think outside his own existence and has indicated that he would like to help others who are living with HIV, as well as their friends and families.

Jesse created his own tracking tool to help him keep tabs on his results.  Not long after this he started talking about educating others about HIV.  Things progressed after I started talking about my blogs.  Jesse talked to me about his intentions and I suggested he might like to blog about his journey with HIV while he works out where he wants to go with the educational side of things.  It took a couple of conversations but the next thing I knew Jesse proudly announced that he had finished the draft for his first post!

For the last two weekends I have worked with Jesse to bring you Hope in Vastitude.  Jesse has put in a tremendous effort to start bringing together valuable resources for people affected by HIV.  And along the way he has been educating me and extending my knowledge of not only HIV but of his amazing inner strength.

Jesse has been through a lot in the last year.  His world was rocked by his diagnosis, he had to face his family and tell them the news, he has lost friends, he has had to keep things together and continue working, he has faced his fear and has decided to go public with this disease, and all the while he has had to work on his inner demons and keep his own spirits up.

So I am going to take this opportunity Jesse, to thank you for allowing me to share the journey with you.  I applaud you for your courage and strength and dignity.  I am so very proud of what you are doing with Hope in Vastitude.  And most of all I am honoured to be your friend.

Jay’s Reflection

Posted: July 4, 2010 by Jesse in HIV
Tags: , , , ,

Hi everyone, Jay has been kind enough to email me the following piece that he would like to share with you all about his reflection on my diagnosis and our time together.  Please support Jay’s courage by leaving some feedback.



Hey there, my name is Jay, as you may have seen I had just started seeing Jesse a few weeks before he got his sero-conversion result, I asked Jesse if he would mind if I could share some thoughts from my perspective, in the hope that if anyone ever finds themselves in a similar situation they will know that not everyone will run a million miles from them just because they have been diagnosed as being HIV positive.

Jesse and I met online and chatted a few times before we actually caught up. Now for me the first time we met face to face it was an instant attraction and I wondered if I was ready to place trust in someone again and have a relationship, but as the following days passed I realised I was starting to have some feelings for him.

The first few weeks of a new relationship are always referred to as the honeymoon period and Jesse and I were certainly both feeling the euphoria of a new relationship, when as Jesse said the rollercoaster began.

I remember the day like it was yesterday also, I was out visiting some good friends when all of a sudden my phone rang, it was Jesse I could hear in his voice things were not ok and he told me how he had been asked to go back to the doctors surgery, being a little older than he, I am now 35, and having already lost one friend to HIV 10 years ago and having many friends today who are living with HIV I had a pretty good idea what was about to follow.

He asked me if I would be able to meet him at the doctor’s surgery, naturally without hesitation I said yes, grabbed my keys and said my goodbyes to my mates. Now they lived about 40 minutes away and all I remember about the drive over to meet him was driving like a lunatic beeping at people to get out of my way and managed to get to the doctors surgery in about 15mins and we went straight into the waiting room, I do not condone my driving that day and thankfully I made it in one piece and did not get a ticket.

It was a tense moment all I wanted to do was just hold him in my arms yet I couldn’t, don’t get me wrong I am comfortable in myself and my sexuality I am just not into full on public displays of affection, whether they be gay or straight, it’s just not me.

It wasn’t until we were in the doctor’s room that as the news broke I just reached over and held him as he started to cry, I was full of emotions at that moment, pain, anger, bemusement wondering why him, why now? Not once did the thought of Bugger how do I get myself out of this come to my mind, rather it was more how do I best support the man I am falling in love with.

I am not sure if it was the best time but as we stood in the car park I had made up in my mind that I would never let him be alone and said to him I want you to know I am falling in love with you, my brain went whoa dude you dropped the L word this quick into a relationship but my heart over ruled and I don’t regret it.

That was a long night, not too many words were spoken and I don’t think they needed to be, but I held him all night and didn’t want to let go, I wanted to wrap him up in cotton wool and protect him from the nasty cruel world that did this to him. Jesse is an amazing person, strong, independent, considerate, very caring and compassionate and I could have never asked for a better partner, unfortunately as the coming months passed my fears from a previous torrid abusive relationship were starting to shine through and I started to distance myself without even realising it until it was too late and the next thing I knew we were sitting in his lounge discussing our relationship, what we wanted, what we needed and because of the person he is I started to realise I couldn’t wrap him up in the cotton wool I wanted, he is a social person and is lucky to have many beautiful and supportive friends who also wanted and needed to be there for him also.

We broke up that day for several reasons, my main reason was because my previous relationship was an abusive one, I ended up in hospital on occasion and it was playing in my mind, not that I ever thought in a million years Jesse would or could hurt me that way, but I could feel a shift in his personality and I didn’t know how to handle that and I became scared, what if he wants to carry this anger will I be able to cope, will I in turn start to treat him the way my last partner treated me, what is becoming of us?

Jesse as he has explained had his own reasons also and we went our separate ways, but have always remained close since.

I still love Jesse I always will and I will be there for him every step of the way, standing back a little to allow him to grow as a person and find his feet as he comes to terms with the reality of being HIV positive, but never too far so if he ever falls I will be right there to catch him.

I want people to know that if you find yourself in a similar situation with a new partner, it doesn’t mean it’s the end, we certainly didn’t break up solely on the basis of him being positive and me being negative, but as I hoped to explain for many other reasons that all contributed to us being where we are today.

HIV can be a scary and isolating disease if you allow it, I have watched many friends deal with it, but it doesn’t have to be, yes some people will freak out as Jesse has mentioned but others will surprise you and be a pillar for you to lean on when the days you need some support and on the days you want to just have fun they will be there to let their hair down with you.

I am proud that Jesse has started this blog and I am truly honored that he has allowed me to put this into words, I haven’t said it to him but this has actually helped me, I haven’t stopped and thought about what has happened over the past year, nor have I taken the time to let him know some of the things I have said here so as much as it helps anyone who reads this, I also hope it helps Jesse know that I will always, no matter what the time of day, what the situation is, or wherever he may be in the world if he needs me I will be there.

Thank you for being who you are Jesse and for having loved me.

One year on…

Posted: July 4, 2010 by Jesse in AIDS, HIV
Tags: , , , , , , ,

At the time of starting this entry it was the one-year anniversary of getting my equivocal result and the rollercoaster ride began.

It was quite an interesting day.  I got through most of the day really well, and then, in the evening upon reflection started to feel pretty miserable about it all and kind of hit a wall.  I spoke with a few mates and they all offered incredibly strong words of support and it gave me the inspiration I have been looking for on what to write about in this entry… And that is going to be some words of thanks to a few people who have helped me on my journey thus far.


Jay and I started dating only a few weeks before this journey began.  I don’t know how I would have got through the first few months without his support.  I remember receiving the phone call from the doctors asking me to get in ASAP as there had been an error with my ‘all clear result’ given the week before.  I got straight on the phone to him whilst he was visiting a friend in Ipswich about 30-40 minutes away.  Amazingly (and probably very dangerously), he was there with me at the doctors in about 15 mins.

When the doctor gave me the news, Jay just held me whilst I cried and cried.  Given the short amount of time we had been together, I honestly thought that Jay would have wanted to get up and leave.  To this day, and always, I will be so thankful that Jay was there; I can’t imagine how difficult the situation would have been for him and yet he knew that all I really needed at that time was to be held.

And hold me he did.

Neither of us are the type to be all couple-y in public, yet he practically carried me to my car and sat with me for what must have been a half hour or so before going home to get some clothes and coming back to spend the night with me, where he continued to just hold me all night.  He was also with me the day I got the official HIV positive result and was again nothing but supportive and strong for me.

Due to Jay having recently done his sexual health tests and getting the all clear, and my getting an all-clear result the week prior to getting the phone call to come into the doctors Jay and I had made the decision to have unsafe sex during the course of that week. Yet upon me getting my result, he was totally focused on me, and my state of mind rather than being concerned for his own wellbeing.

Jay and I separated about 4 months later due to many reasons.  I remember it being a long day discussing our relationship – but ultimately he had his own issues he needed to resolve and I felt I needed the separation and time to deal with the HIV independently as well.  From that day to now, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he will always hold a very special piece of my heart and he will always be on the list of my closest and dearest friends.  His standing by me through the early, and most difficult months is something that I will always love him for.  I just hope that Jay recognises what an amazing person he is and I know that I am a better person having met him, and having him touch my heart the way he has.  Thankfully Jay’s tests have come back all clear and he remains HIV negative.

Shona and Jennie

My crazy lesbian sisters!  Where would I be without that crazy pair! What a day it was when I told them of my situation.  Getting back from my meeting on the Gold Coast and taking them outside for a chat.  What a teary-eyed session that one turned out to be!  I am so thankful to have met this pair and feel a part of a family when I am so far from mine in Canberra – the support they have given me is out of this world – the way they listen and tolerate my ranting and raving is something I have never been able to do with my biological family and no actions or words will ever be enough to express my sincerest gratitude to this beautiful pair of girls.


Keir has always been like a big brother to me.  I know that if I ever need advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone that I know will listen without judgement – Keir is the man I turn to.  Keir and I have a very special relationship where no matter what the circumstance we have the others full support.  I know that no matter where I go in life, if I ever need help or advice, he has always and will always be there for me.


Kelly, Kelly Kelly… where do I begin?  If it weren’t for her knowledge and support Hope In Vastitude would still be nothing more than an idea stuck somewhere in the back of my head.  She picked at my brain, guided me and unleashed a whole new side of me.

Not long before my diagnosis Kelly had her own health problems.  Working with Kel made my diagnosis much easier to deal with in the workplace, as I had someone who could relate to my circumstance with the barrage of doctors appointments and tests etc.  I am happy to report that things with her health have improved and Kel is doing great!  She has recently gone through a dramatic change since starting her own blog, Clear Blue Window.  Seeing this kind of change in a person is on the same wavelength that I am hoping to achieve with Hope In Vastitude.  To be able to help people accept the person they are, and whatever their circumstances were or are and move forward with their lives.  Thank you for all of your help with this blog, but most importantly, thank you for being you.  Don’t ever change from where you are now for anyone, as I love you, just the way you are.


Andrew is my eldest brother.  Whilst we were close growing up, our relationship kind of ceased when I came out.  I guess he had to deal with it in his own way and I can now respect that.  When I made the trip down to Canberra to tell the family of my situation, we had made some progress with our relationship and I was probably more worried about telling him then the remainder of the family, because I was worried it would affect the progress we where making.  To my great surprise, upon returning to QLD I had the following email from him:

hi Jesse

hope you had a good trip back and are warmer

Your news came to a shock to us, we thought when you said you had news that it was good news.

i havnt stopped thinking about it, we had a look at your cd and it’s helped us understand whats happenning

we stand by your in your decision with pathology

and if your happy to let it be with the guy that you got it off , thats your call and i do understand in a way what your getting at

just thought id email you and let you know that we are a phone call away if you need anything at all or someone to talk to

we hope your patners results come back clear, let us know when you find out.


I know it seems like a simple email, but it truly meant the world to me.  Whilst we don’t speak often, I know that I have my older brother and his partner Dot there should I ever need anything, and for that I will be forever grateful.  If you have a look at the presentation on the handy tools page you will understand what he is referring to.  The other significant point is that of all my immediate family, to this day, Andrew and Dot are the only ones to have taken the time to look at the presentation.


My cousin is a truly amazing human being.  He is quite possibly the most compassionate human being I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  He is a heterosexual guy that is a member of CAAH in Sydney.  I have asked him to supply a brief overview of this organisation:

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) is a community organisation started in Sydney over 10 years ago. CAAH is a grassroots campaigning group, started by activists who wanted to stand against the blatant discrimination faced by all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-gender, Transsexual, and Intersex (LGBTI) community.  CAAH has been campaigning for many years now on discrimination they face in fields such as LGBTI health, discrimination in human rights, discrimination in immigration, in law, and in education.  These last 2 years CAAH has been concentrating on the battle for Marriage Equality for LGBTI couples, fighting for their legal and equal right to Marriage.  In these many battles CAAH is the group behind all the major Rally’s in Sydney over the last few years. They also have recently moved a lot of their campaigning online (, launching online petitions over things such as granting a gay Bangladeshi couple refugee status, and recently an open enquiry into veronica baxters death.

CAAH also works amongst and supports a wider network of groups based in Sydney, such as Organisation Intersex International (oii) and the Sydney Beat Project.  CAAH has also been involved in Sydney’s Mardi Gras for many years, as well as most other Sydney LGBTI festivals and events such as IDAHO (International day against homophobia).

Currently as mentioned earlier, CAAH is fighting for Marriage equality, and has declared 2010 the National Year of Action, for Marriage Equality.

To be a full time student who is also so actively fighting for homosexual rights, across a range of topics is something I am so proud of him for.  I am so proud of him being a part of this organisation.  Keep up the fantastic work Steaphan.

Aunty Hugi

My aunty is such an amazing woman.  Following my diagnosis she came across a publication in Sydney called talkabout. She managed to pick up a few copies and gave them to me when we were both in Canberra visiting family.  She has been there for me 100% through everything, including me coming out and now my journey with HIV.  She is such a strong woman who I am so incredibly proud of being related to.  Like me, she seems to always put others needs before her own and like me, this seems to have bitten her on the behind on more than one occasion.  Yet she always seems to bounce right back and keep going strong.  I think of her and am immediately filled with such pride.  You keep going strong Hugi, and know, that I have always got your back and am so incredibly proud of the person you are.

Gee Gee

My awesome little ginger kitty!  It probably seems totally random for me to be thanking a cat, however my boy can always detect when I am having a down moment and just cuddle up with his daddy or become part of my shadow to ensure that daddy is always safe.  To be able to just cuddle up with him and have a cry – unload to him without being judged and to love and be loved unconditionally is such a special thing.  Thank you my little one!

There is one more person that I would like to thank and also leave nameless.  This person has been a rock for me in so many ways.  He has helped me gain a greater insight on HIV and life as a HIV positive person.  His positive attitude towards it and life in general is a true inspiration and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

I have sought the permission of those mentioned above to use their names and share with you the support they have given me, some of them have even requested to share their stories with you – stay tuned to Hope In Vastitude for their stories, as I feel it will be a great asset to this blog for you to see just how supportive those that are close to me have been in the hope that it will show you that those that truly love you, will continue to do so unconditionally.  There are many others that have been immensely supportive that I have chosen not to share for various reasons.  I could literally continue writing for days, however I feel I have met the purpose of what I am trying to get across.

I think about how different my life might be today if I never contracted HIV, and it really makes me wonder what I would be doing with myself.  My life really had no direction to it, I was just an average guy that hung out with mates, went to work and had no real passion about anything.  I look at my life now, and the direction I am now going.  Hope In Vastitude is really just the beginning of a whole new dimension to my story.  I have received referrals to various organisations and can see myself becoming an active member of the HIV positive community to raise awareness and educate on this topic.  My life now seems to have some kind of direction and I have developed a passion for something, which is a wonderful feeling, as I have never really experienced it before.

One last thank you, and that is to you – my readers and my followers.  I am truly blown away at just how many people are looking at Hope In Vastitude.  I can only hope that I am offering them some peace of mind.

Again, Thank you!

Bug Chaser…

Posted: June 29, 2010 by Jesse in AIDS, HIV
Tags: , , , , ,

I was having a chat with a guy online recently whose only interest was having sex with me, and whilst I would like to say it was because he found me totally irresistible, his reasons were unfortunately based on my HIV positive status.

This person indicated that he had never actually had sex, and he desires to be infected with HIV upon losing his virginity.  Needless to say I was totally shocked.  I would like to point out that at no point did I give him reason to believe that I would fulfill his request. I chatted to him for about an hour, trying to understand why he, or anyone for that matter, would not only want to become infected with HIV, but actively seek it…

The slang term for someone that actively seeks HIV is a bug chaser.   Breakdown: they are a group of people that actively seek unsafe sex with HIV positive partners with the intention of contracting HIV.  On the flip side, you have the Gift Givers.  A Gift Giver is a HIV positive person who will comply with the Bug Chaser’s attempts to contract this disease, or even seek unsafe sex with people that are HIV negative without disclosing their status,and may even deny their status if asked.  This is the reason I stress that protection should always be used with casual sex partners, and to get regular sexual health tests done.  These tests can often be done for free through your local sexual health centre.  They say hindsight is 20/20 don’t they!

I find it incredibly frightening that there seems to be so many people out there without accurate information on this disease.  People that actively seek it, and more frighteningly, people that are willing to infect others.  Lets get real people!  HIV is a serious illness, yet so many people make the assumption that because there is antiretroviral treatments available that we need not take HIV and AIDS seriously anymore.

I think that people actively seeking the disease are not looking at the long-term implications.  Here are just a few:

  • This is a disease for life – there is no cure, there is no second chance;
  • There is a higher risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections and diseases due to the weakened immune system;
  • There will be regular medical appointments to monitor and track the progression of the disease and determine when antiretroviral treatment should commence;
  • Once treatment begins – you will require treatment for the rest of your life;
  • If you want to travel, you will be unable to enter some countries that have a ban on HIV positive people obtaining visas and there are other countries that have a restricted access to persons with HIV. Whilst many HIV positive people do not declare that they are HIV positive upon entering these countries, there can be serious consequences for lying on declaration forms if their status is discovered and it can be proven that the person was previously aware of their status.

I am all for people having the freedom to make their own choices, but my concern is that these ‘bug chasers’ with their lack of sensitivity to this disease will then infect others.

I hope that these bug chasers and gift givers will one day realise the reality of this disease and re-assess their positions on actively seeking HIV or infecting innocent others.

How’d I get here?

Posted: June 27, 2010 by Jesse in HIV
Tags: , , , , ,

Who I am

Well I guess I start by introducing myself, and the reason I have decided to create this blog.

My name is Jesse and I’m a 22-year-old gay guy with HIV (I’ll get to that bit later).

I grew up in Canberra, Australia; literally in the same house until I was 17 years old, at which time I moved to Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, before returning to Canberra some 10 months later. I tried to stick it out in Canberra again but at 20 I decided it was time to get out. I have lived in Brisbane ever since.

Coming out

I came out to my friends and family at age 16. Like anyone who has come out, I have had both good and bad reactions. I have a strained relationship with some of family members and I have lost people I once referred to as friends based on my sexual preference. I guess this is all a part of the process of ‘coming out of the closet’. Overall I found my ‘coming out’ experience to be the most liberating experience of my life thus far. No longer living in fear of what people would think, what people would say… fortunately I realised at quite a young age that it didn’t matter – as long as I lived my life the way I wanted to.

Receiving bad news

Almost 12 months ago I went for my half-yearly sexual health test, just to be sure all was good. The following week I got an all clear result and went on with life as normal. Exactly a week later the rollercoaster ride began – I got a call from the doctor advising there where some concerns regarding my tests and to pop back in ASAP. 15 minutes later I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery with my then boyfriend (only a few weeks in), terrified as to what was waiting for me behind the door.

The doctor advised me that there was reason to believe I may be experiencing a sero-conversion to HIV and that I would need to have another test done 2 weeks after the original test date to obtain a conclusive result.  I was totally devastated. Like a lot of people, I had taken the occasional risk, but in the last 6 months had made an extra attempt to do the right thing – only slipping up once. That’s the reality of this virus… it only takes one time and you can be infected.

So I got another blood test done and anxiously awaited the results. In the meantime I contacted the person of concern and found out he is HIV positive.

This moment was a bit surreal for me, he was more upset then I was… I was just thankful to have some kind of closure. Within the week I had my next appointment with the doctor and was given a HIV positive result.

At this point I would like to stress that I do not hold the person who infected me responsible for my infection. I agreed to have unsafe sex and did not ask him what his status was.

Telling my family

I made the decision to inform my family almost straight away and went to Canberra for the weekend. This probably comes across as a bit strange considering I have a strained relationship with some of them. The reasons I decided to tell them were:

a) My mother already knew and I didn’t think it was fair for her to carry the burden of knowing my situation but having no one to talk to about it – I wanted to tell people about this myself, not hide behind someone else doing it on my behalf; and

b) I wanted my family to understand why I was no longer going to be the one to maintain the fragile relationships I already had with some of them – I felt that it was time for me to live my life without feeling obligated to carry the responsibility of one-sided familial relationships.

People say that telling your family you have HIV is as hard as telling them that you are gay… I would have to say I agree. I guess part of the reason I decided to tell my family was because I was hoping it would help repair our fragile relationship. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and things are as they were prior to me telling them.

Telling my friends

I have told some friends and overall they have been quite accepting.  Some freaked out a bit though, and I no longer have any contact with those that are unable to be supportive of my situation… which, as hard as it is, makes me kind of thankful that I am no longer friends with them. After all, if a ‘friend’ can’t be there to support you, who can you really rely on?

Searching for Support

I started searching for support organisations and found that there are limited support networks available. This is the reason I have decided to put this blog together. I am hoping to help others in the same situation.

Where I am now

There have been some really tough times in the past year, but finding out I was HIV positive really put a lot of things in my life into perspective. I am able to let go of a lot of anger I had toward people – over what I now recognise as quite petty things.

I look at this as a chance to get out in the community and educate people on HIV and what it is. I have done various research assignments on HIV at school, so already have a reasonable understanding of what it is, however I am really shocked by how many people know nothing about it.

I have had some struggles. It has been quite a ride!

However, with the support of some amazing friends I am now starting to feel like my old self again. Better then that, I can offer some help to people who are infected with HIV and can educate those who aren’t, and urge them to take the appropriate precautions.

Hope in Vastitude

Through this blog, I intend to provide links and various tools to give newly diagnosed people some assistance in researching and understanding this virus. Currently I have a HIV PowerPoint presentation and a tracking sheet I use to record my results at home, which then converts them into a line graph for easy tracking and self management. You can find them in our Handy Tools page – please feel free to use them for your own needs.

Thank you

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Hopefully it has been able give you some help. If it hasn’t, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to see what I can do.

A special mention and thanks must go to Richard, Krista and the rest of the team at The Well Project. These guys have been so supportive, and I obtained much of my research from this site. Please take the time to visit them, they are a fantastic organisation with a great supply of research material. Keep up your great work guys