I was taking working in a private clinic as a phlebotomist, and I was taking blood tests from one of our HIV clients; he was a young man who I had been working with for about four years. It was an accident just waiting to happen really, because I was rushing him through because he wasn’t feeling too well. And that was it; in the blink of an eye I had a needle stick injury. I became HIV positive as a result. 

I was lucky that I wasn’t treated any differently; my family and friends were very supportive. I think that because of the way I was infected I didn’t suffer from the stigma that often goes along with an HIV diagnosis. 

The virus is a devastating thing to be dealing and to be living with. But the stigma itself is ten times worse. Because it’s the stigma that stops people dealing with the virus, it stops diagnosis and it stops people from getting treated. I’ve seen stigma destroy people, and destroy families. So I think the stigma is far worse than the virus, and the virus is bad enough.

My message to New Zealand around HIV would be to educate yourself about the virus, and understand the virus. You should also get to know people living with the virus, talk to them and let them teach you about what it is to be living with HIV, and get an understanding that there is nothing to fear from them. Modern medication is keeping us healthy and keeping us safe.  I’m looking forward to a productive future with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.

More Than HIV is a joint project between NZAF and Positive Women.

Real People

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  • 📝 31, Gay, Auckland
  • "HIV isn’t a cause for shame or some dirty little secret... I firmly believe that the more honesty and frank discussion we have about HIV, the better."
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  • 📝 42, Straight, Hamilton
  • "You can live with the virus, but the stigma will kill you emotionally. I encourage you to talk about HIV; that is the only way we can fight the stigma."
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  • 📝 45, Gay, Wellington
  • "We are people living with a chronic illness, but we are normal people, worthy of love and respect. It's time to start talking about this disease."
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  • 📝 52, Straight, Southland
  • "My message is that people are people. New Zealand thinks it’s Godzone, but it’s a little bit closed-minded. We needed to accept each other and love each other."
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  • 📝 63, Gay, Auckland
  • "As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have the problem – you have the problem. Because you need to learn to accept the way I am, because I’m no different, it’s just that I carry HIV."
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  • 📝 67, Straight, Southland
  • "I was lucky that I wasn’t treated any differently... I think that because of the way I was infected I didn’t suffer from the stigma that often goes along with an HIV infection."
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  • 📝 55, Straight, Northland
  • "Most people have a 1970’s/80s perspective of HIV. I’m on one pill a day for the rest of my life, and as long as I stick to that, I expect I’ll live to 90. "
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  • 📝 39, Straight, Auckland
  • "Some of the positive stories that have come from my HIV diagnosis are that I’ve learnt who my real friends are and I’ve gotten closer to my family. I’ve also learnt to love myself."
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  • 📝 24, Gay, Sydney
  • "To those who have HIV, like me: you are normal, you are loved, you matter and you are important. Together we can dust off the cobwebs of over 30 years of stigma."
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  • 📝 Female, Straight, Sister
  • "Families are forever."
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  • 📝 31, Gay, Auckland
  • "No matter what, I have the support that I need to get me through anything."