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Ireland / Will @ireland
, 12 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
I want to share something personal with you. It's important to tell you, because it motivated me to have more compassion for people living with #HIV, pushed me to test regularly and to get involved with #ACTUP - It started with a mistake..
A few years ago, after a stable relationship had finished. I was feeling quite low. I went out with friends and tried to have fun. I got chatting to someone over a few drinks and before we knew it, we were back at my place. I wanted intimacy and passion back in my life
Generally, my prevention method has been to use condoms, but we got carried away. I didn't say anything about using a condom and neither did they. Next morning, mid-hangover the fear started to creep over me. Had I put myself at risk of getting #HIV?
At the time I did know about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) - PEP is an emergency course of medication that you take if you have been exposed to HIV. But it must be taken within 72 hrs of a potential HIV exposure. See Link
But I hesitated, I waited, I told myself it would be fine. I thought about txting the person I was with, but there's not responsible for my sexual health. The 72 hrs past and that turned into days and weeks of anxiety about #HIV
After 18 months of stress, losing weight, unable to focus, I felt like I was getting sick. I had convinced myself that I had #HIV. I didn't talk about it to anyone about and thought that I would never be close to anyone again.
Eventually it got to a point that I just had to know. I booked an appointment to get a rapid #HIV test with results in 60 seconds, because I wanted to #KnowNow - I was shaking like a leaf in the doctor's waiting room.
The doctor could see I was distressed and reassured me that, whether the test indicated a reactive or negative result that #HIV is not a death sentence that it was in the past. I didn't know that people living with HIV, live relatively normal lives. I was ignorant.
While I waited for that minute to pass, I thought about a mural by @MaserArt that I seen on the way to the doctor's office. In big white letters it spelled out Seamus Heaney's last words 'Noli timere' – 'Don't be afraid.'
I opened my eyes and the doctor said, your result is negative. I burst into tears. Not because I was negative, but because the stress of not knowing was gone. From that time onwards. I would test every 6 months. I value my mental and sexual health in the same way.
When I read that one person in Ireland every 18 hours receives a #HIV diagnosis, they are not a statistic, they're a living, breathing person with family and friends, they will get treated for #HIV and get on with their life. Question is how will you treat them? #EndHIVStigma
I feel quite emotional but telling you that story. Yes there are tears, I'm not ashamed to tell you that. But I'm not afraid anymore. Taking #PrEP has reduced anxiety about HIV and beside effective treatment means I have no fear about enjoying sex with people living with HIV.
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