A decade ago memories were triggered by the mention of a place name you once went on holiday, a song playing on the radio or the smell of a lost loved one’s perfume or aftershave. We still at certain times of year or when visiting relatives flick through each other’s old photo albums to relive celebrations and different occasions (as well as fashion horrors) of our past.
The rise of social media means our memories are now more likely to be spoon-fed to us by way of technology and algorithms. It’s fun to look back at the exciting nights out, the messy weekends away or random jokes in the office. But there’s no filter and sometimes we’re reminded of the bad times, as well as the good.
This week memories from my Facebook timeline have taken me back to where my HIV journey began and my seroconversion.
I’ve still never felt as ill as I did during the two weeks in July 2009 when I was confined to my bed.
I wasn’t to be diagnosed until the November of that year and I am grateful and lucky that I decided to return to the sexual health clinic for a repeat test. My immune system was already compromised to a fair degree by the time I found I had HIV. I don’t like to imagine what may of happened to my health had I put it off any longer.
Nine years later I am living well, I’m still fortunate to have access to free treatment and care thanks to our amazing NHS and I know that the drugs protect me and my sexual partners.
The signs were there for me in July 2009. Don’t ignore yours. Use condoms, PrEP (or both). Get tested and keep testing regularly. If you find out you’ve got HIV start treatment and you can have a healthy and happy life.