The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Indepth: 'I was scared to tell my family that I have HIV'

INDEPTH online Friday, 22 March 2019, 14:10 Last update: about 4 months ago

Telling his parents that he had contracted HIV was a scary prospect, and he waited a few days before telling them about something deeply personal that had changed in his life.

This week on Indepth, Editor-in-Chief of The Malta Independent Rachel Attard spoke with John*, an individual who was diagnosed with HIV two years ago at 26 years of age.

During the programme, he shared his personal experiences with regards to how being diagnosed has impacted his everyday life and relationships.

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John wished to remain anonymous because of the stigma that still surrounds people with HIV.

With regards to medication, John criticized the fact that the multiple-pill HIV regimen in Malta is still notably antiquated when compared to the single pill the rest of Europe is prescribed.

He also encouraged further investment into the area, particularly with regards to educational campaigns on both a national and a school stage to teach people about the real facts of HIV.

“Investment to update treatment to the same level as the rest of the world is great, as this would mean a life without side effects,” he says.

A €1 million investment into modernised HIV treatments was recently reported by this newspaper, where it was explained that the amount was being budgeted for a project through which the current treatment available to HIV patients locally will be changed to a different therapy as advised by international clinical guidelines.

John relayed his experience (or lack thereof) with education in school with regards to sex education, and insisted that schools have a duty to teach students about the potentialities of unprotected sex.

 

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Earlier report

This week's guest on Indepth - a man who was diagnosed with HIV at 26 years of age - explained how relationships he was in broke down after telling his partners about his condition.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous so as not to be labelled as "that guy who has HIV", was interviewed on The Malta Independent's weekly discussion programme by Editor-in-Chief Rachel Attard.

He shared his personal experience with regards to how being diagnosed with HIV has impacted his everyday life and relationships.

The situation with regards to relationships is changing, he noted, with people slowly becoming more accepting.

He insisted that the stigma on HIV carriers is still pervasive in some areas of society, and that if people were taught that HIV positive individuals can take proper medication and take good care of the situation, then people would be much more at ease.

"The problem we face is that people think that we are dangerous to them - this is not the case. Removing this danger-related stigma would make life much better for everyone."

Taking all the necessary precautions to protect oneself, including through regular tests and protection, is never truly enough, he said.

"You cannot say what would happen in these situations. You can take all the necessary precautions and still have something happen to you. Sometimes you're just unlucky."


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