Good news yesterday, my very special friend, Adrienne, is to ‘appear’ one again or Radio Lancashire. This time on a lunchtime chat show with Sally Naden the presenter and two other panellists. This is a big breakthrough, as she recently spoke about the virus on the Breakfast show and now this! For too long we had thought that the seriousness of the HIV/AIDS issue was being ignored, but now it seems someone is taking notice. With a 13% rise in known cases in our area (North West) this year it is about time. Notice I said ‘known cases’, this is because at least a third of people with the virus will not have been tested. A sobering thought.
Some people assume they are not in the ‘at risk’ group, as seven years ago, the same was assumed of Adrienne and when she was continually ill with one infection after another her GP just sent her away with antibiotics, creams for the sores on her skin and mouthwash for the ulcers. After nearly dying of pneumonia in Ibiza, she consulted a homoeopathic doctor, who at once recognised the symptoms and did an HIV test. To her horror, it was positive. As you can imagine, she was devastated – she had been in a long-term relationship with her partner, a ‘respectable’ businessman. When he had died quite suddenly of liver cancer a couple of years earlier, she never thought for one minute that it might be AIDS related. Of course, at that point she could recall all the other symptoms he had displayed – and even has photos of him covered in sores & bruises, like hers.
From that total devastation, she turned her life around – went back to university to do a degree, appeared and ‘came out’ on the Jeremy Vine Show, set up her own HIV support group, Hivine, has become Chair of the umbrella group, Thrivine and written her autobiography, soon to be published.
So – thought for the day – you may assume you aren’t at risk, but do you know your parter as well as you think you do? Where was he/she on that business weekend – what happened after you had a blazing row and broke up for a few days? You may think that we are talking about a gay illness, but not so – the virus has been advancing in the heterosexual community since 1999 and is now equal in both sexual orientations.
The implications of HIV/AIDS are monumental. The treatment is improving, but there is no cure. You will be stuck with the medication and all the side-effects forever and unless things change, you will also be stuck with the stigma and discrimination.
Every sexually active person and every needle user is at risk. Protect yourself. HIV does not discriminate. Do you?