I was diagnosed HIV+ in 2014 after working abroad in Europe over the phone. This diagnosis was shocking at the time and unexpected, causing me to reassess priorities in my life. I changed careers, from being a teacher for 10 years to working in the community health sector. I worked in multiple roles at the Western Australian AIDS Council in 2016 (Health Promotion Officer, Gay Men’s Health; and HIV+ Peer Education Officer), and enjoyed being able to support newly diagnosed individuals as well as working with knowledgeable and dedicated HIV clinicians and a range of other health professionals.
Attending the International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2016 was absolutely incredible, and I was truly inspired by passionate activists, advocates, scientists and allies. This conference provided me with a much more comprehensive understanding of global HIV and human rights issues.
I’m extremely grateful to have access to world class treatment, care and support in Australia as a very privileged cisgender gay white male. I want to assist my community any way possible and I’m currently involved in the HIV sector in a range of roles as a volunteer:
Board Director, Living Positive Victoria
Victorian State Alumni Coordinator, Positive Leadership Development Institute
Speaker, Positive Speakers Bureau
Digital Think Tank for HIV Cure Research
A cure today would lead to a reduction in stigma, which is one of the biggest challenges facing HIV+ individuals. Provided individuals had equitable access to the cure, health outcomes would most probably improve, leading to better overall quality of life. Many individuals would not need to manage some of the complex co-morbidities associated with HIV while ageing, or face discrimination in a range of settings (E.g. aged care settings, offices etc.). In addition, prevalence of co-infection would be less, resulting in a substantial reduction in morbidity within society. The HIV sector would need to evolve too to address other pressing issues (E.g. drug-resistant STIs, implications of co-infection, mental health issues etc.).
The thing that excites me the most about this opportunity is the chance to connect and work with passionate individuals that are highly knowledgeable about HIV, working towards a cure.
I’m currently studying a Master of Science in Medicine (HIV, STIs and Sexual Health) part-time through the University of Sydney, and look forward to working internationally on HIV projects in future.