Lance 45, Gay, Wellington

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 confirmatory 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 labeled HIV-positive while being wheeled around the hospital. This left me feeling unclean.

There 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 labeled 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.

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Living with HIV

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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.

Living with HIV

Personal Stories

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.

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