The HIV/AIDS Catch 22: Telling those living with HIV that they will live a normal life whilst at the same time campaigning against the spread of the virus in order to save lives. It’s something that National HIV Testing Week is dealing with well. It’s spreading the message that HIV is a manageable condition provided that you know your status. It is so important to discover HIV early so that the specialist nurses and doctors can monitor your health regularly and decide when it is best for you to start medication. As I mentioned in my last blog in the UK the standard practice is to discuss starting medication when a patient’s CD4 level drops below 350. The longer the virus stays within the body the wider it spreads and replicates, it attacks the CD4 cells and the immune response to infections is compromised.
I think I was probably living with HIV for five months before I found out if I was infected by the virus. I was lucky in that the only thing my body appeared to have picked up was a nasty cough that didn’t ever go. I got so used to it I didn’t even realise I still had it., until I bumped into my friend on Market Street I hadn’t seen her for about six weeks. I immediately start coughing and she yells ‘DO YOU STILL HAVE THAT F-CKING COUGH?!’ After that I started to dwell on why I might have it, was my GP hinting when he told me it was just a ‘persistent virus’ and he couldn’t do anything about it? Then I got tested. Then I found out my status. Then I started medication, but now I am fine, healthy and living life pretty much as normal as any other 20-something in Manchester.
I’m going to write a few small entries this week in the run up to World AIDS Day on Saturday December 1st so I will leave it at that tonight. If you want to get tested for HIV find out where your local clinic is at www.tht.org.uk/thinkhiv