Posts Tagged ‘General’


Posted: August 14, 2010 by Jesse in Family, Friends, Movie
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I’m back!

Sorry for the delay in getting something new up here. For my first post back, I am going to write about this incredible movie that my housemate introduced me to recently.



Shelter is a story about love and finding one’s self.  Zach (Trevor Wright) has let go of his dream of art school in order to look after his broken family.  His older sister Jeanne is more focused on parties and guys than her 5-year-old son, Cody, and she relies heavily on Zach to take care of him.

With best friend Gabe out of town, Zach goes out back of his friend’s house to get his surfboard when he bumps into Gabe’s older brother Shaun (Brad Rowe) who is back in town for an indefinite period of time to work on his book.  After spending time together Shaun starts to see much more to Zach than just his younger brother’s best mate, but rather an individual with an amazing artistic talent who admirably places the needs and wishes of his family before his own.

Shaun tries to guide Zach in following his own dreams and aspirations, and in doing so they develop an intimate bond that like any romance will jump on the rollercoaster ride of emotions as the story develops further.

Things finally start working out for them and Zach has to confront people’s curiosity about his association with an openly gay person.  He backs away from Shaun in an attempt to once again, be the structural support in the family foundations.

But how long can Zach deny himself of what he really wants?  Shaun, after-all has helped him understand himself better then anyone ever has. He accepts him as he is, and guides him to follow in his dreams.  And possibly most importantly to Zach, Shaun has a fantastic relationship with Cody…

When Zach receives a call from the Art school advising he has been accepted with full scholarship, it coincides with Jeanne’s request of Zach take a leading role in the raising of Cody. Zach again has to make the decision between taking care of Cody or to follow his dreams of attending art school. Or does he? Can he have both? Can Shaun fit into this?


It is so refreshing to find a gay movie that isn’t all about sex, drugs and/or parties!

I think part of my connection to the movie is my own relationship with my family. I single-handedly maintained the relationships with them for years after I came out and there was no support from them. Over time they came to accept me to some degree – but the relationships have never been the same and I have come to accept that they probably never will be.

I had to make the realisation that the pain it was causing me to be in that situation just wasn’t worth it. That is part of the reason I packed up and moved to Brisbane. It was the best thing I have ever done in my life… To finally allow myself to be me, without the constant concern about how others would think of me.

I have friends, and some great ones at that. However after years of feeling more or less excluded. I have never really felt that I belong.  This is really hard for me to explain, so stay with me on this one.  I have more or less been my own person since I was about 14 years old.  I’ve had to travel many aspects of my life without any real support or guidance.  So even though I do have these amazing people in my life I always have this sense that I am different and never really connected.

Whilst I’m not religious or anything, I do have a belief that life only throws at one what he or she can handle. I developed this attitude quite a while ago and I live by it. I am a hard worker in all aspects of my life, and I will continue to be so I can deal with each new day as it comes to the very best of my ability. Although what’s that quote?

“Life’s a box of chocolates, You never know what you’re gonna get”.

I think a part of it is that all through life we are gaining new insights and developing new values and beliefs. We are ever-changing beings – evolving independently every day.

Lastly, What is there not to love about Shaun? This kind of guy has gotta be too good to be true yeah?


A note from Kelly

Posted: July 5, 2010 by Kelly in HIV
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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.

Bug Chaser…

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



Hope In Vastitude

Posted: June 27, 2010 by Jesse in AIDS, HIV
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In 4 days it will be one year since I was given my equivocal result and my life changed forever.

What a year it has been!

From the time I was diagnosed I knew I wanted to provide some kind of support for people newly diagnosed with this disease as well as their friends and families.

I hope that sharing my experiences, research and opinions with people will provide some  sort of assistance and support in their own journeys.

Why Hope In Vastitude?

From my own experience following my diagnosis I had feelings of fear, solitude and helplessness. All of these feelings are completely normal and it takes time, personal growth, and support to understand or accept these feelings.

Hope represents these feelings, and it is my hope that through this blog I can provide some answers or at least steer people in the right direction to finding these answers.

Vastitude represents the enormity of this disease, the expanse of the unknown, and the enormous amount of support available, should you know where to find it.

So stay tuned to this blog, add it to your favourites.