'I just take the tablets and get on with my life'

I was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1997. I'm now 65. It was a bit of a shock. It could never happen to me, after all. I only found out because of someone's kindness and honesty.

In the autumn of 1997, I had felt really out-of-sorts; I developed a flu (which I'd never had before) and came out in a rash – which I now know was probably the HIV starting. I got over that, but still felt awful. The “someone” kept asking me to go over, as he wanted to tell me something “important", but I just didn't feel up to it.

Anyway, eventually I did go, and he said something like “I've something to tell you.” He said that he had been diagnosed HIV-positive on his annual test. So I had “the test” too, and learned that I was HIV-positive.

My blood tests showed that my viral load was 500,000 copies/ml and my CD4 cell count was 210! I was put on anti-HIV drugs immediately.

Side-effects developed, though my viral load came down to 'undetectable' in six months and my CD4 count went up to 400. But thankfully my treatment was changed. This meant that there were no longer any restrictions on what I could and couldn't eat at the same time as my pills and the side-effects went too.

I do my bit to look after my health. I don't 'work out', but always do sensible things like cycling a bit, walking, eating well (and enjoying wine and beer). I don't take drugs or smoke.

Eventually, a job was advertised for a network manager for a nearby comprehensive school, and, again being very positive in my life attitude, I applied, and was accepted. I didn't disclose my HIV status, only my GP knows it. At first just me, my team has grown, and I love it!! I’ve been doing the job for over five years now.

I am a very happy sort of person, and hardly think of my HIV status. I just take the tablets (never missing a dose) and get on with my life. My viral load is still undetectable.

As Woody Allen said, 'It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.'

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Starting treatment

By Christopher

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