Through Positive Eyes

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My name is Graeme. I am 62 years old and I live in southwest London.

I was diagnosed in the very early days of the epidemic. I wasn’t aware of anybody else in my circle who had HIV. It literally did seem like a death sentence then. You literally didn’t know whether you had weeks, months, could you even think about years to live. And I was 32, I was relatively young, and the thought of dying was quite scary really. So between my diagnosis in 1985 and 1996, when effective medication became available, a lot of my friends died. But I was very lucky that I was a slow progressor so by 1996, when my CD4 count had dropped to 200, I was able to get on the medications.

Some people think that life post medication is a piece of cake, but it isn’t. In two years’ time, when I’m 64, I will have spent half my life with HIV.

My own church is known as liberal catholic, all embracing. We have a diversity policy where everyone is welcome. I always felt able to come out about my sexuality, but I didn’t generally come out about my HIV status. So I gave them my life history in 40 minutes with musical tracks in between. I was totally honest about my life, my being gay and my becoming HIV positive. At the end when I finished there was a kind of silence for a few seconds and then there was an applause. I went forward closer to them and people stood up and hugged me, which is a tremendous affirmation really of the love in the church.

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