My name is Glenn Filbin and I was diagnosed HIV Positive in 1997. I am about to turn 52 and I am one of the lucky ones. I was admitted to the Alfred Hospital Emergency Department very unwell. I had Toxic Shock Syndrome. Three days later I was told I was HIV Positive. I had 3 T cells and a rampaging viral load. In a short space of time it was discovered that I had Toxoplasmosis in my brain, a bacterial infection contracted from cats. I experienced what can only be described as the equivalent of two strokes. My speech, vision and memory were impaired and left me with a legacy of epileptic seizures.
I have also had 3 full hip replacement surgery operations and my knee will be done in the not too distant future. Apart from that I am fine. For the last 8 years I have had a non detectable viral load and encouragingly high T cell counts. I am healthy enough but there are constant reminders of my HIV status.
I no longer enjoy full time employment and live in an rental assistance flat on a disability pension. My independence and freedom of choice have been compromised more that I ever thought possible. However I have never experienced discrimination or vilification for my HIV status in any shape or form. My partner of 9 years, friends, family and medical profession have loved me, nurtured me and cared for me respectively throughout this HIV life journey.
By speaking about my personal experiences with the disease under the auspices of the Positive Speakers Bureau, it is my intention to keep people informed and educated about the relevant issues regarding HIV & AIDS. It is still here, not as evident, but as insidious and destructive as ever.
Living with HIV is not a death sentence but it is a life sentence. There is no room for complacency. It could happen to you.
Live long and prosper.