Sunday was a milestone for me, it was the two year anniversary of my HIV diagnosis.
Two years ago, on Thursday 4th August 2011, I was sat in Whittall Street Clinic Birmingham being told something that’d change my life forever – that I was HIV+.
The past two years have flown by, I’ve seen my CD4 as low as 364 and as high as 627, whilst my Viral Load has been on a constant drop from 79,000 to the ‘undetectable’ level it is now. I’ve gone from blogging anonymously about my fears of living with HIV to blogging publicly. I’ve written for a dozen magazines, as well as spoken on television and radio – heck I even launched the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy Cricket Final in front of 1.5bn people last month. When I started my blog over on WordPress just after my diagnosis I was too afraid to say who I was, I got a couple of hits a day and didn’t really know why I was doing it. Now in 2013 I’m out there, I’m getting 10,000 hits and 50-60 odd emails asking for support each day.
But whilst that’s exciting and everything, the biggest thing for me is how much I’ve come to terms with what is essentially a life long condition in such a short period of time and how I’ve been able to make use of my experience over the last couple of years to help other people who are coming to terms with their own diagnoses. Over the last year or so I’ve been volunteering at one of the local HIV clinics – offering a chaperon service to people new to the clinic, it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve even personally raised over £8,000 for various HIV charities – which wouldn’t be possible without your support.
At the end of this month, August, I’ll be taking part in a training course with THT to become an Online Peer Support Volunteer over at MyHIV.org.uk. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but due to funding training course places are scarce – so I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands!
To those who are just coming to terms with their own HIV diagnosis: Stand strong. Things may feel bad now, but just hold on in there. HIV is a bastard it’s true, but it doesn’t define who you are. You are and still can be amazing.
To those who have supported me along the way: Thank you, your constant love and support – it has been a constant source of strength for me, even in my darkest hours.
Thanks and all my love,