My name is Patrick and I would like to share my story with you.
I am not very good with dates, maybe because it brings back memories and souvenirs of time and events I would sometimes rather forget.
So why not start with the more happy memories:
I have been living in Australia for more than 20 years and absolutely love living here, the space, the freedom, and the land of opportunities.
I have the luck to have two passports; a dual citizenship, and the misfortune to have a dual disease – I am living with HIV & HCV and have been for more than 15 years.
I got infected through blood transmission, I was not a drug addict but I was having fun, did not care much about consequences so I did share needles and practice unsafe sex.
And this is how I contracted HIV and HCV, life was a party at the time and nothing was to stop me from having fun. I was young and naïve and irresponsible.
A rollercoaster ride started that day. Life expectancy took a new meaning, who I was going to share my secret with, who I tell and how I was going to deal with it for the next part of my life.
Doctors and nurses became my new best friends, and I was living in a new world of hospitals, doctor’s appointments and blood tests.
For a long period of time I lived in total denial. Relationships became unreachable and wearing a condom during sex act was the only way to practise sex from then on and still to this day.
I finally reached the stage where I had to take prescription drugs to combat the HIV. Daily I take up 6 to prescription drugs and a cocktail of vitamins to help boost my immune system.
I am now well past the age of forty and I am living happily in a very loving relationship. I feel very lucky to have a regular partner. She is not HIV or HCV positive.
I am very healthy guy, I take good care of myself, I certainly don’t drink a lot nor take any form of illegal drugs.
I go regularly to the gym to keep my body in shape.
Despite the fact than people with HIV or HCV or both might not die at the rapid rate of years ago, I do want to emphasise the point that it is not easy to live with both virus’.
Only a few of my friends know about my status, I don’t disclose in public and try to preserve a bit of privacy. No members of my family are aware about the diseases. Mind you they live on the other side of the world and I don’t feel the pressure or urge to tell them.
Certainly the same applies for my partner’s friends and family.
I choose the people I tell very carefully, more for the support they could bring.
To conclude, I would like to say this is not an easy ride, I wish this experience on no one. It is never about you only; it always involved somebody else who suffers along the way with you: partner, family, friends people who care for and about you.
Today there are a great deal of support groups around who provide health, counselling and well being advice for you and your partners.
Please take time to look into HIV and HCV, try to inform yourselves for a better and safer life.