20 years and counting

I became infected in 1984 and this month celebrated the fact that not only was it my 51st birthday, but also I had survived twenty years with HIV. On the weekend of my 31st birthday I received an unwanted gift, which unfortunately could not be taken back and exchanged for vouchers. I have thus spent the major portion of my adult life with the virus underlying almost every decision and action. Prognosis for me in early 1985 was that “another six months” was unlikely and that I should ensure that “my affairs were in order”.

I have survived, I believe, through a combination of factors; good luck probably being the most relevant. I have been enormously lucky for the unconditional acceptance and love that I have received from my family and friends and the depth and quality of medical support that I have been privileged to obtain. I’ve worked hard at it as well; not prepared to give up in what is simply an instinctive fight for survival.

Nobody needs telling that life ain’t easy. Fear, depression and loneliness were almost constant companions, but there were lots of good times too. I got into a very intimate and enduring relationship with alcohol, from which I have eventually managed to extract myself. Life and some degree of sanity somehow survived that affair, but it was a very close call at times.

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