All too often I listen to people living with HIV talking about how they don’t know anyone else with the virus, or they’ve never met another HIV positive person. Usually they’re relatively new to receiving their diagnosis but sometimes they have been living with the virus for years.
It’s a common misconception that living in a big city can be easier for people than having a home out in the sticks – yes the logistics of getting out and about can be a lot simpler but loneliness isn’t just about location, it can be a state of mind too.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet and socialise with a lot of other HIV positive people, visiting other cities for workshops and bar crawls, attending spaces or evenings out organised by HIV charities and organisations, but I am aware that some people don’t feel able to connect to all of these services, or are looking for something less official or ‘authorised’.
On Friday a group of HIV positive people managed to meet up at a few bars in Manchester and enjoy a really good night out. What was great was that ‘HIV’ didn’t own the night, yes it came up as a topic of conversation and it was what had led us all to meet – but we were more interested in having a good time, chatting and dancing. Essentially doing everything that everyone else out that Friday night had left the house for, to unwind, relax.
Friday was about being connected to a community. It wasn’t about politics or being part of an activist agenda, just having a laugh and enjoying a night out.
The night was also my first foray in taking my new medication whilst out and about and with alcohol. One of the advantages of taking a one-a-day pill is that I can now use a key chain pill holder so I always have a tablet on me wherever I go, this means I don’t have to worry about delaying or accidentally missing a dose because I don’t get home in time etc.
I was a little anxious that with alcohol I might experience side effects from the medication, I always avoided taking my last combination before or during a night out as I would feel horrendous, I’d take them when I got home instead: it’s important for me that I have a quality life that’s normal. I don’t want to be worrying about feeling ill or dashing to the toilet too often instead of having a good time. But I was perfectly fine, I managed to order some food in the first bar we were in, unscrew the pill holder and knock back the tablet with a cranberry juice before moving onto something a little stronger after eating.
I’m still confident I made the right choice changing my medication, another four weeks to go until the blood tests but fingers crossed the results will still be good. We’re finally out of dreaded Jan, the nights are getting lighter as I leave work or the gym, I’ve lost those Christmas pounds and I feel like the rest of 2015 is right there in front of me for the taking!