You would think after ten years of living with HIV, writing articles, raising awareness on TV, running a HIV charity with countless talks to young people I would have it nailed when it comes to telling people my HIV status…you’d be wrong.
My whole life is built around the minefields relating to this illness and it’s hard to talk about my work without giving away my status. Living, breathing and working within HIV can be enough to push anyone over the edge! Striking the right balance between juggling life, work, friends, relationships on top of your own well being can be tricky for anyone at the best of times. Newsflash – not everyone who has HIV is like me and able to disclose…worth baring in mind next time you have unsafe sex.
We have the facts and yet we are still missing the message. Don’t buy into the myth that HIV is like diabetes, there is nothing manageable when dealing with an uncertain future, side effects from medications, and to top it all off rejection based purely on your positive status. A HIV diagnosis can rip through to your core and make you question everything. Yes, I was very lucky to be a baby in the early 80’s and the medications I started in 1997 turned mine and many more people’s lives around. Thankfully, we’re not dropping off like flies anymore. However it’s not a good enough reason for the growing trend showing increase in HIV infections and STI’s pointing towards people taking more risks than ever.
Friends have warned me to be careful of disclosing my HIV and not tell random people. We’ve all heard the countless horror stories of abuse, ignorance, violence…so what the hell is going on? Why do I have this nagging feeling the gay scene is losing touch with what’s really important – compassion for the safety of your fellow man. Have all the 24 hour clubs, drugs and alcohol finally talking their toll or was it ever their in the first place?
Horrifying as it is to admit, there are Positive guys who don’t seem to give a damn or in deep denial. To top it all off we also have ‘Bug chasers’ taking self harm to another crazy level that simply defies belief. Positive guys taking risks with negative partners just doesn’t add up either and yes you can be prosecuted and locked up – welcome to my world.
You can’t get away from the fact that wearing your heart on your sleeve leaves you vulnerable. So, I’ve decided to turn my positive diagnosis on it’s head and shout it from the roof tops. If you don’t take full responsibility and call the shots, then who will? HIV/AIDS is a global issue – far greater than you and me – it’s a matter of life or death and you might not be as lucky as me.
Clint Walters died of a heart attack in his home in Clapham, London on Sunday, April 4th, 2010.
He’d dedicated his post-diagnosis years to raising money to help support other young people diagnosed as HIV positive and also dreamed of opening a weekend testing clinic for young people, which hasn’t yet been achieved. Perhaps his death will generate some urgency amongst those of us who have convinced ourselves that HIV/AIDS isn’t a big deal anymore.
You might find these interesting too: