I was born in Bangladesh to Australian Baptist missionaries. My family lived in Bangladesh for around 13 years before returning to Australia when I was around 3 years old. My father is an ordained Pastor so I was born and grew up in the Baptist church from day one. I have always been very fortunate however to have parents and a family that has loved me and supported me no matter what the circumstances. My unique family has allowed me to be exposed to many different cultures and experiences that I will always treasure.
My story with HIV began in June, 2007 when, after having secured a teaching position in Seoul, South Korea, I decided to get tested so that I knew I’d be heading overseas with a clean slate. On finding out that my slate wasn’t so clean I felt a deep numbness and didn’t really know how to react or what to do, I told a few close friends of mine and one HIV+ friend of mine was a real help with all the questions and making me feel ok and normal. My doctor advised me that I was still in a very healthy state and he did not see why there would be a problem for me heading to South Korea as planned. So in July of 2007 I packed up and moved to Seoul.
Normally, faced with a new culture and new beginnings, I would be in my element, but as the long hours of work started and the loneliness and solitude kicked in I began to see my mental health take a turn for the worse. After about 2 months in South Korea I returned to Australia and to all the questions that would inevitably be awaiting me.
On the plane journey home I decided to come clean with my family and let them know what my situation was. It was a time of lots of tears, lots of heartache and I think lots of healing. I was back and ready to start my life. Fortunately my old employer snapped me back up in an instant and I was back at work within days of being back.
Since returning to Australia I have participated in one of the Peer support groups run by the PLC and have also undertaken the facilitator training to facilitate others. As I continue my journey with HIV+ community I want to endeavour to encourage, support and empower those who have been affected and educate those who want to know more.