Today my HIV comes of age. 18 years ago I was diagnosed HIV positive. If my HIV was a person it could now vote.
I woke up, just after 6. My boyfriend snoring next to me. I quietly got up . Left the warm bed. Drank my coffee, stroking the cat, in the silent kitchen. I remembered to take my meds . They were visible on the kitchen table. No need to hide them, as everybody I live with knows about my HIV.
I left to go to my yoga practice, as I do every day. I had a slow, long and mindful practice that lasted almost two hours, trying to stay focused s on my breath. But still the thought: ‘Wow I am still alive! “ kept coming. Who would have believed that I would be still here, not only alive, but so strong and healthy? Stronger and healthier than I was when I received my diagnosis.
I have spent most of the day at work, and in spite of being Monday and the temperature freezing I felt like I had an hidden smile. The anniversary of my diagnosis has become my celebration of being alive. HIV has given me the gift of not taking life and health for granted.
I know well how fortunate I am. So many of us still live in fear, under the burden of secrecy, in isolation and hopelessness.
One of the things I think a lot about those days it is how HIV medication seems to have become the response to everything. The single solution. The end of AIDS
So from the experience of living with this virus for 18 years, I would like to say: it is people who take pills. So many of those we support at Positively UK , do not have enough food to eat, or a stable accommodation to live in, sometimes they are in relationships where they are not safe . Very often they understand very litttle about the virus or the medications they take. How can you take treatment religiously, as we are expected to, when everything is uncertain?
Meanwhile the mantra from above is: we are in a crisis, there is no money for support services. Commissioners are slashing budgets, and access to medications is limited by financial concerns. Yes, even here in the UK, one of the strongest economies in the world.
Poverty, inequality and violence still drive this epidemic. I wish we could have a pill for those.