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Late Diagnosis


Stereotypical and stigmatizing understandings of women with HIV often mean they suffer years of ill health before they are diagnosed with HIV:

“I didn’t find out for 8 years until I went into the hospital and presented. I’d sent my kids with their Dad and I said, “I’m here, I don’t what’s wrong with me?” The doctor checked me and said, “You know, I used to work overseas and I think you’ve got AIDS.” Then I said, “Wake up and come back when you’re a doctor.” He went for a while and came back but he said, “I can’t test you here. I’ve been to see my boss and he says I can’t test you. So you need to go to your own local GP and have an HIV test.” My GP was away and his fill-in said, “There’s nothing here to indicate this,” whilst flicking through my file. I wasn’t a drug user or anything. But I finally got the positive diagnosis, and I remember praying to God, saying “I’ve got three kids to raise, mate, let me raise them, and then I’ll lay down happily and die happily.” That was 22 years ago, so yeah, I’m still soldiering on. I don’t get very sick very often. I live a happy healthy life. Though when thinking back, I’ve got the coffin picture as it always seemed to come back to that funeral thing, you know.”