I was living in Dunedin when I was diagnosed with HIV after I received a needle-stick injury while working at a dry-cleaning company. My doctor couldn't believe it was a positive result because he thought Dunedin didn't have an HIV problem.

My doctor sent me for another HIV test. When it too came back positive, I was referred to Christchurch hospital for yet more confimatory tests.

I was eligible for an ACC bulk payment as my diagnosis was injury-related. But I didn't accept the payment because, as a gay man, I couldn't confirm whether my diagnosis was a result of the injury or engaging recently in unsafe sex.

I think I have always inflicted stigma on myself, feeling dirty because the HIV was sexually transmitted. I believe this attitude is also present in the community.

When I recently had elective surgery at a private hospital I was was labled HIV-positive while being wheeled around the hospital. This left me feeling unclean.

The have been a couple of occasions when I've felt I'd rather life were over than having to go through the ordeal of living with HIV, being labled and having the associated stigma. 

When I came to Wellington I was introduced to Body Positive and NZAF. They've been a huge support for me and, because of that care and nurturing I'm now on the board of Body Positive. I now have a large, positive support network.

My message to NZ is, it's time to come out of the closet about HIV. 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.

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."