World AIDS Day is on Tuesday, 1st December. Reverend Hayley Young, who has spoken to PGS' Pride Society, describes her own experience of being HIV Positive.
My name is Hayley and I am HIV Positive!
Yeah, for some people that is a big deal for others it’s really not – my hope is one day everyone will react to me no differently because of it, but the reality is today they do.
People looked worried when I touch someone!
I contracted HIV in 2013 and was forced by people I once trusted to make it public. I told the community in which I work and live in May 2015. When I told people, most were amazing and supportive; they wanted to know how they could help. Others - well, honestly, I thought I had travelled back to the 1980s.
The stigma that some have placed on HIV and the prejudices that some people treat me with has made me more determined to talk about being HIV positive.
Having HIV is not the end of the world; although it’s not the best thing in the world either!
Due to advancements in medicine, if HIV is picked up early enough it will have almost no impact on your daily life. You can carry on as normal, that’s why it is so important to get yourself checked.
As someone living with HIV, I take a cocktail of anti-viral drugs everyday that help suppress the virus in my body. Due to other infections and the right combination of drugs not being used straight away, the path for me was a bit complicated.
That future is just the same as it always would have been; and it is up to us, as good human beings, to make sure that that future is not filled with the prejudice and the stigma. That’s why World AIDS Day is so important, to raise awareness that it’s OK to be HIV positive and also to shine a light on the injustice of this world.
I can have a future because I live in the West and that means I have access to treatment; others are not so fortunate because they live in a different part of the world; therefore, they die needlessly of a treatable virus.
So, as it’s World AIDS Day, you have a choice: a choice to sit back and let the world go by or a chance to act differently, to show kindness and compassion to those living with HIV, in this country and others.
I live with HIV,
I’m still me - just a bit more positive