I’m Chris and I’m 55 years of age and I live in London.
I was already ill and then I got lots of opportunistic infections: pneumonia, esophageal candida, herpes, thrush. It was like when you see those nature films where you have a log in a forest, you speed up the film to see it decay. That’s what it felt like. It felt like I was drowning.
I was diagnosed in ’92, and in ’93 I was in the hospital weighing 65 kilos. Double pneumonia. Diarrhea. Night sweats. Couple of months to live. I was not long married. You talk about my life with HIV, it’s our life with HIV, my wife’s and mine together. She’s been through all the processes of dealing with me when I was really ill, and dealing with me when I was recovering, and dealing with me when I didn’t know what to do. She’s the glue that kept me together.
I’ve had doctors say, “Well, isn’t this like diabetes?” But it isn’t. As far as I know I’ve never come across a diabetic who was reluctant to tell his mother and father that he’s diabetic, who can lose a job because he’s diabetic, who doesn’t know how to tell a girlfriend, a prospective girlfriend, that he’s diabetic. Listening is different.
I have been given the gift of grace. We humans, we’re full of fear. I’m not frightened anymore. Not frightened of this. Not frightened of people.
Loads of guys never made it. Loads of guys got ARV’s (antiretroviral treatment) and still never made it. It was too late for them. It hasn’t been straightforward, coming back here. The Lazarus effect is not instant, it takes time. But I want to show that people can recover and live a full, active life.