Iíve been positive for 25 years. Iíve had no AIDS-defining illnesses, but the side effects from the anti-HIV medication are frightening. Iíve had wonderful care from my doctors and a great support team of friends. At the end of the day, Iíve really got nothing to complain about.
I was a volunteer counsellor during the early days of the epidemic in Singapore. Working with those HIV-positive individuals was life changing. In the years that Iíve been working as a nurse, I have got to know patients as people, not by their disease.
We were always close. He was emotional and kept things quiet. I loved him deeply. He was a dancer, so people always said heíd land on his feet. I knew he had a partner as a steadying influence, yet he became remote. He went into hospital and we thought it was something else, anything else. It wasnít until the doctors asked if I knew he was positive. The palliative care was amazing. Which is why I now work as the National Patron of the Australian Palliative Care Foundation.
The first night we met he said ĎIím HIV-positive, you have the option to take me or leave me now.í I loved him for that immediately. He has to take 19 drugs a day to manage his condition, and Iíve been so scared of losing him. But weíre in for the long haul, whatever happens.
Todd was a great friend. He got sick when I was pregnant and went into palliative care. Life was writ large, watching a huge energy diminish and a small one grow. He died when my baby was six months old. Then my child got cancer when he was three, but I knew Todd was watching over him. Iím so grateful for the time we had together.
I seroconverted a few years ago. It was a huge reality check, but I donít let it hold me back. Now itís my opportunity to help others.