Why am I supporting the ‘Know your Status Live Event, 2019’
As a director of an LGBTQ company I feel a great responsibility to contribute to making our community a better place. It is this very reason that we jumped at the chance to work with BioSure on the ’Know your status live, 2019’ red carpet event.
I am constantly shocked by the level of ignorance that still surrounds this treatable condition. Just the other day I heard the story of a childhood friend, who after 20 years of friendship (and following her joyful announcement that she was pregnant)… her partner made it abundantly clear that he had no place in her life anymore. Thankfully these kinds of stories are rarer than ever, but they do still exist.
Why do we need a self-testing kit?
After all, if you live in London then you have access to Dean Street within the heart of London’s gay district; they couldn’t be more LGBTQ+ friendly if they tried. Dean Street is an incredible sexual heath clinic, that as well as testing, they offer a full range of support groups, counselling services and a whole lot more. Then the 38-year-old me had to think again. I remembered back to my 17-year-old self, who lived far away from the big smoke in a small town in Dorset (a country bumpkin if you will). I remember the absolute fear of being seen anywhere near that hospital GUM clinic; what if my mum’s friend saw me…I’m sure my friends brother works here!...They will know I’m gay! I remember that these fears were far from averted when I eventually arrived and got what my mum would describe as ‘something to be desired when it comes to bedside manner’. The doctor was visibly uncomfortable when asking me questions about my sexual partners, and administered the swabbing tests without warning (and with quite some force). As it was my first ever test, I didn’t realise that they would be shoving a swab there! Suffice to say, I apparently walked out looking nothing less than frazzled. Of course, nowadays this isn’t commonplace by any means… but I never forgot that experience.
Living your best life
I have so many friends who are living with HIV and live a full, healthy and happy life. We only have to look at the outpouring of support and encouragement that Gareth Thomas has received recently from the public, after being so cruelly outed by the press. It is a real sign of how far we have come.
The message is clear; this is a treatable condition and with minor adjustments your life doesn’t have to change at all. We all just need to get that message out there, so we are all on the same page: the only thing to be worried about is not knowing!