Patient stories

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Patients are at the heart of everything we do. We are actively encouraging local people, as well as doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, to share their health stories to help inform, encourage and inspire others. 

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David's journey after being diagnosed with HIV

Local businessman David, from Harborne, describes his journey after being diagnosed with HIV.

Five years ago I went to Ibiza for my friend’s stag do. I came home feeling rather poorly which I put down to burning the candle at both ends for seven days. But, I decided to go to the doctor as my fingers were going numb.

One of the things he said was that he needed to do a test for HIV. In my head I was like “no way, I’m careful, I always take precautions”. After thinking about it I felt a bit spooked, so I went to the Whittal Street clinic.

I was tested and the day after I received a phone call. “Hi, is there any way you can come in to see us?” I thought to myself that’s not normal, surely? So, I went in fearing the worst. I was taken into a room where I was sat down and asked “Do you know why you’re here?” I said I had a pretty good idea.

Then she said it: “You’ve tested positive for HIV.”

I had mixed emotions, ranging from thinking “what am I going to do” to “it’s cool, I’ll deal with it.” She said at the time don’t worry, it’s no longer a death sentence. I thought to myself I wasn’t sure I classed it like that anyway. I already had a basic understanding about HIV and she said look at it like this: “You could have cancer that is harder and more invasive to treat and that could kill you.”

When I came out of the clinic I went straight to work and spoke to a close friend and work colleague. We both had a cry and I did my day’s work feeling slightly numb. After I’d finished I spoke with my friend Anna, who is the sort of person who is calm, talks sense and is supportive, without being too emotional, and I felt much better. This was only just the start though, emotionally. 

Over the coming months I started going into hospital quite regularly to have checks and see where my body was at and how it was reacting to the virus. Let me tell you, I was extremely anxious about all this and absolutely hated going to the hospital, but the more I went, the easier it got and I started to know all the staff who are lovely. Now I really don’t get nervous or anxious anymore.

I started taking medication, carried on having checks to see if the medicine was doing the job it needed to, but at the cost of horrendous side effects. I didn’t sleep properly for 18 months and suffered from terrible nightmares and a bad stomach. I was regularly asked how I was getting on and was always honest about the side effects but was worried about swapping to a different medication just in case I swapped those side effects with others. I finally changed as I couldn’t handle them any longer to find that my new tablets gave me no side effects and performed as they should.

I’m a healthy and an undetectable positive male. This means I cannot pass HIV on to anyone else. I actually feel like I understand what’s going on with my body more now than I ever did! Because I’m tested for various things to make sure all is working as it should, and to be honest I only have to go once every six months now, so it’s really no inconvenience to my life. 

During all of this I was single for quite a while and thought no one is going to date me now.

Years ago I dated a guy for a while and he told me he was positive. I freaked out and said it couldn’t go any further (at this time I knew absolutely nothing about HIV and it scared me) so I guess I was thinking people would think the same towards me. But I was pleasantly surprised. I had a few people that I told, that were a little unsure, but overall it’s not really been a big issue.

I didn’t tell my family for 18 months because I was unsure about how they would react and my mom worked in hospitals when Aids was prevalent and I didn’t want to scare her. Once I was comfortable with it, I spoke out. My mom was upset, not because I had HIV, but because I had not told her and because I didn’t give her the opportunity to be there for me when actually I needed her the most.

The lady at the clinic once told me that I will get to a point where I won’t even think about being positive and she was right. I take my tablet, don’t really think about it anymore and I’m happy to talk to people about it and give information or advice. 

I live a busy life, have a busy business and having HIV doesn’t stop me doing anything, and it’s really not affected my life in any way.

I had a choice at the start, and that was to let it get to me or not. I had the mentality that I can’t change this, so I just need to get on with it. And I’m happy.