I met my first true love at age 16, and we stayed together until I was 20. At the age of 21 I decided to get a whole lot of sexual health checks done. One of the tests was an HIV test. When I went back for the results, they gave me a positive one. All that I remember in that moment is thinking that my life was over, that no man would ever love me again, and there’d be no children in my life. 

Some of the stigma that I’ve faced since my diagnosis, is people thinking that I deserved to get this virus. Some people think that you need to be promiscuous or using needles to contract the virus; I don’t fit the stereotypes. Because of my status I’ve had people judge me, and have had people not want to be around me. I have been offered jobs, and subsequently been rejected from them when my potential employer found out about my status.  I’ve had some people ask me out, and then never rang me again once I’ve told them my status. Mainly the stigma I’ve faced is just people being ignorant, and not knowing about the virus. 

Some of the positive stories that have come from my diagnosis are that I’ve learnt who my real friends are, I’ve found the people that care about me, and I’ve gotten closer to my family. I’ve also learnt to love myself, and I’ve learnt to accept myself no matter what. 

H is for Human. If you are a human, this virus can affect you. If it is given a chance it will. Educate yourself, and educate your peers and your family, and make sure you look after everybody as well.

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

Real People

  • 👤

    Charlie

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Judith

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Lance

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Gayle

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Michael

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Jan

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Shane

  • 📝 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. "
  • 👤

    Jewel

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Campbell

  • 📝 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."
  • 👤

    Twiggy

  • 📝 Female, Straight, Sister
  • "Families are forever."
  • 👤

    Rhys

  • 📝 31, Gay, Auckland
  • "No matter what, I have the support that I need to get me through anything."