Posts Tagged ‘Vastitude’

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

Cheers,

Jesse.

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.