Reporting on Charlie Sheen's HIV disclosure has been mixed, with some new organisations applying respect and restraint, while others scandalise and point fingers. 

Here, Owen Jones reminds us all why we need to fight stigma and it's damaging effects.

Read the full story here.

 

 

 

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:53

Six Voices Part Six - Disclosure

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part six of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

IN TODAY’S EVOLVING TIME THE IGNORANT AND UNEDUCATED ARE THE ONE’S THAT ISOLATE THEMSELVES.

Disclosing one’s status is a brave and commendable thing and as a person living with HIV, my experience has taught me that those that wish to run away due to this ignorance or lack of education will weed themselves out. As friends of mine have reiterated to me at several occasions – “What does not kill you makes you stronger” – how true!!!

Personally I’ve come a long way. I’ve gone through the emotional rollercoaster of having to disclose my status in various situations; whether it is casual sex encounters, confiding in friends, being faced with awkward silences, blank looks or just that plain rejection. It has dragged me down from time to time and is discouraging and disheartening, but on the contrary there are moments that put a smile right back on my face.

I have chosen to surround myself with loved ones that provide me with that safety and security of unconditional love – that feeling of liberation, acceptance, non-judgement and belonging – the beauty of being me. Our words and actions impact others in negative and positive ways. If we can stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone and extend our hands – we will induce change to help eliminate stigma.

 

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:51

Six Voices Part Five - MONDAY

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part five of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

IT"S MONDAY AND I AM WRITING MY COMINGS AND GOINGS FOR THE WEEK ON THE WHITEBOARD.

For Wednesday I wrote, RPH/Pharmacy should be in by lunch time. It dawned on me how lucky I was to be able to write that. To be so free and honest, knowing I would not be questioned or judged on why I was going to RPH (Royal Perth Hospital). I don’t have to lie or come up with a cover story, the staff knows I have HIV and on I’m on treatment.

The freedom this allows keeps my stress levels down. I appreciate this is not the norm. Most people experience discrimination or even just the fear of discrimination. I can be completely open; it is a relief that in my work place my health is not an issue.

I have my own cup at work just to make sure I don’t pick up any more bugs. I use swabs to wipe down the phone and my keyboard. Again this is my choice. I don’t want to be at risk of picking up a cold or anything else. This is my choice to keep me as healthy as possible, not because of discrimination.

We all know the law but it does not always apply. This is just one example of discrimination in past employment of when my HIV status had become known. They had a staff meeting where new policies and procedures were presented; this included a page on breast feeding and not sharing breast milk. It was nearly laughable if not so serious; besides the fact I wasn’t even pregnant did they think I was going to start to breast feed children in my care? It may not seem a big deal but I am happy to have the freedom I can write at RPH on the whiteboard.

The medication kept the virus at bay and I led a healthy life.

Instead I was forced to contend with myself, my perceived disfigurement and my own self-stigma.

My Mum says the hardness battles are the ones you have with yourself. She was right. My self-acceptance was the life-changing lesson.

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:46

Six Voices Part Four - The Show Must Go On

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part four of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

THEY SAY AN ESTIMATED ONE THIRD OF HIV-POSITIVE PEOPLE ARE UNAWARE OF THEIR HIV STATUS.

That was me.

For two years I carried the HIV virus, unaware, no signs or symptoms. And then I started a potential new relationship. The doctor, in a blue and white striped shirt asked me what I wanted. “A STI screen please.” “Would you also like a blood test for HIV and Hep C?” “Sure, why not, I have nothing to loose.” The same doctor from two weeks before sat me down. I still remember the first things she said to me. It was as if those moments became preserved in time, like fossils from an antiquated era.

“Have you ever lived in Sydney?” “No. I’m sorry, what does this have to do with my STI results?”

“Well… it seems you’ve tested positive to HIV and the reason I asked if you’d ever lived in Sydney is because Sydney has the highest rate of HIV in the country. I thought this might explain your HIV positive result.”

Heart stops. Stage curtain goes down, theatre lights switch off. End of scene.

But the show must go on right?

The protagonist must duel with the adversary – the virus?

The reality was we didn’t fight.

The medication kept the virus at bay and I led a healthy life.

Instead I was forced to contend with myself, my perceived disfigurement and my own self-stigma.

My Mum says the hardness battles are the ones you have with yourself. She was right. My self-acceptance was the life-changing lesson.

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:40

Six Voices Part Three - Reflections

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part three of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

DO I BEGIN WITH MY FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH THE VIRUS PRE MY DIAGNOSIS?

Do I start from the moment of diagnosis 27 years ago? Do I look at key defining moments over that time or do I look at the here and now?

There has been so much to say, to share and to reflect upon that makes up what has been a complex, dynamic and interesting journey to date. This is still a work in progress, my life that is, and do I focus on the good, the bad or the indifferent?

I find strength in writing, in sharing, in expressing myself even though at times I have also felt restricted.

Over the past 27 years I have been privileged to know and be part of the lives and journeys of many lives. People who I have shared, laughed, cried, enjoyed, cared and loved; who have allowed me into their lives and who in return have gotten a glimpse into mine.

HIV does not define who I am but it has impacted on my life journey to date. I have had HIV for more than half of my life and to say that it did not have an impact would be to discount so many important life experiences that have contributed to be being the man I am today.

There have been many milestones and triumphs, dilemmas, challenges, sad times and joyous ones as well. Each one of these episodes on my life journey have taught me important lessons about who I am and have given me strength and added to my character.

Over the course of the past 27 years I have questioned my place in the bigger picture, but have never allowed myself to wallow in negativity and self pity, even when I was recently faced once again with my own mortality.

Time to move, close off, take the responsibility for your deeds, hide it, maybe in an other world, saving children for persons hateful so called truths, of fathers so call wrongful deeds. To live part of your life at the cost of losing close contact with children, what a terrible price to pay. But no turning back from damage you have caused, hopefully, lovingly repaid as time lengthens. Always fear of name calling of yourself to children and children’s children, tells you to stand back, recede, don’t get too close, lose yourself in the crowd, as hurting your children; once is enough. Even though I am what and who I am we are what and who we are but someone, society states to be different to the norm.

As times I have thought, I should have lived that lie, taken the easy road, with less heartache, not so many twists and turns, less potholes to fall into along life’s way. I have been called the luck one by late partner and friends alike, as I have lived another fruitful life and through that, was given the most wonderful gift of all, my children and children’s children, who no one can take from me.

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 07:05

Six Voices Part Two - Lost

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part two of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

Some of us whom are part of the exciting human race become lost to humanity, family and friends, long roads with many twists and turns, fears drummed into us by ignorance and misunderstanding, that some of this exciting human race are different than the so called norm. 

Whether it be, colour or creed, religion, or sexual orientation, a need in living a lie for begin so different than the normal man in the street. Finally having to accept your difference releasing  yourself from loved ones and the live you have lived. To stand and state who you truly are knowing you have so much to lose, causing sorrow and pain in your gut, that never goes away. Then shame for your family, from graffiti written across the front of your home, for all to see, as children’s school

yard over the road. Time to move, close off, take the responsibility for your deeds, hide it, maybe

in an other world, saving children for persons hateful so called truths, of fathers so call wrongful deeds.

To live part of your life at the cost of losing close contact with children, what a terrible price to pay. But no turning back from damage you have caused, hopefully, lovingly repaid as time lengthens.

Always fear of name calling of yourself to children and children’s children, tells you to stand back, recede, don’t get too close, lose yourself in the crowd, as hurting your children; once is enough.

Even though I am what and who I am we are what and who we are but someone, society states to be different to the norm. As times I have thought, I should have lived that lie, taken the easy road, with less heartache, not so many twists and turns, less potholes to fall into along life’s way. I have been called the luck one by late partner and friends alike, as I have lived another fruitful life and through that, was given the most wonderful gift of all, my children and children’s children, who no one can take from me.

Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 06:35

Six Voices Part One - Red Ribbon

In 2015 we sometimes forget about the impact that living with HIV can still have on a person’s life. Here is part one of a six-part series, describing what it is like to live with HIV in Perth in 2015.

YOUR RESULTS CAME BACK WITH SOMETHING!

Silence filled the room. My brain heard it correctly, but my emotions stood still. My smile is frozen in time, not the most fitting expression or what I just heard. Instantly, I knew what it was and I was transported back in time when I laughed at the idea of contracting it…

It was a harmless psychological test that I took in my senior year of high school, 1996, the kind that one takes for the sole purpose of having fun. In the test were seemingly common shapes, but are drawn incomplete to be called as such. We were asked to complete the shapes and draw something from it, and give it a single adjective to describe what we created. The first four shapes were easy. The last, stuck in my memory as I have struggled to think of what to make out of it. It was time pressured, and all I could visualize for it was to draw a ribbon. What adjective can one think for a ribbon? Red – the first word that came to mind.

Each of those shapes was meant to represent a certain facet of our lives. How we see our family, ourselves, our career and our sex life respectively. The relevance of the pictures I have drawn in each shape were quite close to reality back then, but the last shape that described my sex life was incongruent with what I was back then, a red ribbon. It didn’t mean anything to me. Until my friend pointed out, “Isn’t the red ribbon the symbol for AIDS?” I was so certain back then of my thoughts and my plans.

I was brought up by hard-working parents and devout Catholic. They had instilled in me the values of being a good Christian and the value of helping others. Besides, I was not sexually aware nor exposed at that age. My hormones were not active back then, as my intellectual activities had overshadowed them.

The complexity of my sexuality and my religious upbringing made it easy for me to hide emotional upheavals that arise and bring forward in my thoughts what I wanted to achieve more. For 22 years, I did just that. I was a virgin for 22 years. I was a dog on the loose, that’s what I described myself as upon hearing that I had contracted it. I felt embarrassed and disappointed of myself, an intellectual ignorant about health and sexual matters. This could have been prevented had I known better or listened. I succeeded academically but I failed this life’s practicum. I smirked at the counsellor as I couldn’t put in words all those moments that ran in my head and the emotions that went with it. Then I realized there was a guy waiting outside the clinic for me. We are planning a life together. I had known him for just a month. His results came back negative, as we went for the test at the same time. Finally, swells of tears started to pour out of my eyes. Instantly, I stood up and headed out to the reception where an anxious face came to embrace me and led me outside the clinic.

He knew what it was. As soon as the door was shut behind us, my tears began to have sounds. “I am sorry”, was all I could utter. It summed up what I wanted to tell him if I might have transmitted the virus that was not detectable at the moment in his system. It’s also a hint of a bleak future ahead knowing that I am POZ and he is not, and of the future that we have envisioned that could fade away, and all the good things and memories we have shared in the month be put to none. I couldn’t look at the guy, who has been clutching me at the sidewalk the whole time I was sobbing. Passers-by would look but would not meddle. “I love you no matter what!” Then he started sobbing. He embraced me in a bearish hug that reassured me, nothing has changed – the plans that we made and how he knew me. That was the voice in the moment; a time in space that gave me wings. I have fully accepted who I am. We hugged, sobbed and kissed on the sidewalk for the public to see. We felt no shame, no qualms, and no indifference from the world.
It was a moment when I felt I was doing something right, and conformities from my old upbringing shed a clearer light. Love has no bounds. God will always lead you to the right one when you ask for it. I am POZ. There’s nothing that separates us. What was once a death sentence is buried in the past.

Published in Latest News

A greater understanding of the impact of HIV treatment on prevention is changing the experience of being in a relationship with a partner of a different HIV status, according to a qualitative Australian study published last week in the Sociology of Health and Illness. A biomedical intervention appears to be having unexpected effects – loosening the association of serodiscordant relationships with ‘risk’ and helping couples to experience their relationships as normal and safe.

Read the full article at

NAM AIDSMAP

 

 

 

 

 



Published in Latest News
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 05:47

Aged Care Training for PLHIV Support Workers

iStock 000001560312 Large copyThe aged-care sector currently supports a large number of older Australians to remain in their homes, with residential services provided to approximately 5 per cent of people over 65 years. These supports need to take into account particular issues faced by older people living with HIV, especially when by 2020, 50 per cent of all people living with HIV in Australia will be over 50 years of age. (ASHM)

Currently, aged-care services do not understand the needs of older HIV-positive people and as a result, discriminate against this cohort because of fear or HIV. (GRAI)

“For almost a day and a half, nobody came and talked to me… because I am positive” – Kenneth, 65

Be empowered with knowledge provided to you today, to enhance the client-carer relationship and become a leader for quality customer service. Attend WA AIDS Council's Aged Care Training for PLHIV Support Workers.

This 2 hour course provide aged care support workers with a thorough understanding of HIV and stigma. Training can be provided both on or off site. 

If you are interested in attending this course or would like further information, please contact: 
Reena D’Souza 
Ph: 08 9482 0000 
E: rdsouza@waaids.com

Hear from a valued client:

“WA AIDS Council conducted training for almost 70 Brightwater staff working in aged care including nurses, client coordinators, assessors and support workers. The information was extremely well presented, current and tailored specifically for people working with in aged care. The training was well received and staff reported they now have a much greater understanding of HIV/AIDS and well prepared to provide services to people living with HIV. We look forward to continuing to work with WA AIDS Council!”
(Sandy Komen, Manager, Brightwater At Home). 

 

Published in Training Links

This publication presents a collection of personal perspectives of the response to the HIV epidemic in Australia over the past thirty years.
Read the publication here.









Published in Conversations
Page 4 of 5

Our Mission

To minimise the impact and further transmission of HIV, other blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. To reduce social, legal and policy barriers which prevent access to health information and effective support and prevention services.