Deborah

Deborah

HIV Diagnosis: January 1996

I was diagnosed with HIV in January 1996. On diagnosis, I was a well-informed person regarding the disease and that was worse, as I knew that the future was bleak and I was frightened for me and for my family.

At the time I was not in a relationship and that also made it worse as I had to inform my ex-boyfriend who had broken up with me to be with somebody else. It was very hard to communicate this to anyone because of the stigma involved then and the only people I spoke to were the health professionals involved in my care.

I was reassured that as I was not symptomatic at that time I had a better chance of living another 5 years if I looked after myself, ate well and took prophylactic Septrin to prevent chest problems.

When I told the consultant that I still had desires to be a mother he said it would not be a good idea because the stress of pregnancy would damage my immune system faster and I would get ill very quickly (I’m glad I didn’t listen to him).

It was 2 years after my diagnosis that medication became available on the NHS. During that 2 years I was in contact with other positive women through Aled Richards Trust, and Brigstowe. Brigstowe was very helpful in getting me accommodation because I had been living in a place associated with my work and I became unemployed and homeless soon after my diagnosis.

Things were so bad at one point I took sleeping tablets day and night so as not to deal with all the issues that were facing me. The support from Brigstowe made me look forward and be positive. Weekly visits became monthly and then 3 monthly as I got stronger and better equipped to deal with the HIV+ diagnosis. They saw me through my first pregnancy and the birth of my daughter, and my first course of treatment and all the side effects I suffered.

Today I am just grateful to be here and want to see HIV lose the stigma that it carries in our society.