My name is Dean Camilleri and I’m 29 years old. I was born in Melbourne, Victoria and raised in the Western suburbs. My parents are both Maltese and they got divorced when I was 12 years of age. Also around this age I started to work out that I was gay and began experimenting with drug use, smoking marijuana. It was a way of coping with being gay and soon after I became addicted.
After high school I got a chef apprenticeship and my drug use escalated to meth amphetamine. I also started to engage in very risky sexual behavior and I was only 20 years old when I was diagnosed with HIV. I didn’t handle it well and I relied more and more on drugs to cope and get me by. I had made a great mess of everything and decided to move to Brisbane to start over, but I felt home sick and returned to Melbourne soon after.
I started to see a guy that was also HIV positive and we lived together for a couple years. My drug use was still a problem and the relationship started to fall apart.
I ended up leaving that destructive relationship, and this was the point where I realized I no longer had control over my drug use. I asked my GP for help and attended a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic for a month.
After receiving treatment, my life started to improve. I was able to secure a job that I love and have made some great new friends.
In 2013 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I didn’t think that I was doing anything that had put me into a high risk category. But I decided to start treatment straight away.
The treatment for Hepatitis C was very rough and it affected my life in ways that I not prepared for.
Luckily I have cleared the virus now and I’m a lot more aware of the risks of Hepatitis C.
I knew HIV was going to impact my health, but the biggest challenges I have faced relate to my drug addiction and the social stigma of HIV and Hepatitis C.
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