woodwardPrimary Statement

Being HIV+ taught me not to take life for granted

Secondary

I think its important to make a difference – HIV challenges me in this respect, either I could get terribly depressed about having it or it could galvanize me into action and to lead a bigger life

MY DIAGNOSIS

Where: Victoria Clinic in London by a sexual health councillor in a soft French accent

First thought:” but who is going to love me now? ”

What changed: I realised then how little I had been truly APPRECIATING life around me – so I made a VOW there and then that I would never again take my life for granted…

A Call To Arms

First disclosure : My on/off BF by the thames in Londons southbank

What happened: He said one of THE most important and influential things to me that has ever been said to me in my life – he said “you know, Paul, I know you, you are going to do something AMAZING with this

My Key Mantra in Life:  there’s a Buddhist mantra that says “the trick of life is to turn poison into medicine

TAKING MEDICATION FOR FIRST TIME

When did I start taking meds: I started HAART medication in November 2000. 16 months since my diagnosis. My Cd4 count plummeted. I had lost half my immune system in just a year. I felt careless. To have lost so much. In such a short space of time.

How did feel about taking them? : I was very scared about taking my meds. My flat mate had been on combination therapy for a while and his early therapy hadn’t worked well for him

How did you counteract this? : I created my own private personal ritual to take my tablets

What happened? : Just one month later. December 2000. Viral load undetectable. CD4 count rising. Little side effects. I normalized really quickly. And when my doctor told me we danced around his office together. It felt like Christmas.

AFRICA

How did I make a difference? : One of the most extraordinary adventures of my life was when I went to South Africa to work for an arts based charity working to empower the lives of HIV+ children in the townships.

What was the most challenging things I faced there? : when I had to step outside the huts I was working with the children in to step outside and take my HAART medication, knowing that I had access at that time to this life-preserving miracle and that they didn’t….

OUT OF AFRICA

What happened when I came back?  I realised that there really isn’t a hierarchy of suffering…

Why do I think its important to know about Africa as a positive person? : I think that in many ways EVERY positive man and woman and teenager and child from affluent countries should have the privilege of going to Africa and meeting positive people out there – to experience what it truly means to be connected GLOBALLY in the fight against HIV/AIDS…