A life lived in Fear is a life half lived

On Wednesday 24 April 2002 at 7.30am I got a call from my doctor saying the blood test had come back and that he had to see me. I said to him “It’s positive isn’t it? Otherwise you wouldn’t call me.” To which he replied “Yes but I’m not supposed to tell you that on the phone.”

I went in at 11.30am to see him and he told me that I was HIV+. He gave me the phone number of the AIDS Medical Unit and told me to call them when I got home. However, before I left he wanted me to have a second blood test and by the time I got home it was after 12pm. The AIDS Medical Unit (at Biala) closes at 12pm on Wednesdays and the next day was a public holiday (ANZAC Day), this was the beginning of my emotional roller coaster.

At diagnosis, my CD4 count was 590 and back in 2002 the belief was that you didn’t need to go on medication until your CD4 dropped to below 300 or the medications wouldn’t work. To add to this, in June 2003 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, this I believe was brought on by the HIV diagnosis.

In 2006 my CD4 had dropped to below 300, so we had a talk about starting treatment. This was a scary time for me, it was the next step in accepting I had HIV and would have to take medications for the rest of my life. As a child I had Epilepsy and had to take medication for it everyday and I hated it. I finally went off them in 1986 and haven’t had a fit since 1980.

I’m not sure when in 2006 I started but I went on a medical trial so I got all my medications FREE!! I started taking TMC114 (later named Darunavir) when my CD4 reached 274 (the lowest I’ve ever been). It took my body some years to become Undetectable, I finally got there in October 2009.

Since then I’ve changed medications to Truvada, Ritonavir and Atazanavir and are in talks about another change next year to Triumeq one tablet once a day, now my CD4 count is over 600 (the highest I’ve been is 800) and I’ve maintained my Undetectable status since 2009. I feared becoming HIV+, I feared going on medications and now I’m learning that a life lived in Fear is a life half lived which is why I’m learning to live with hope instead of fear.