After attending a newly diagnosed course, I still felt  very lost. The course had been a great place to start for information, but I only absorbed a little of it. It had been a great leveler, attending a group of mixed gender, ethnicity and sexuality – anyone can be affected by HIV. I only kept in touch with the couple of gay men that were on the course, unfortunately one; Tom, committed suicide. He was young and firebrand, very confident one moment but completely vulnerable the next. Needless to say I was shaken.

Six months after diagnosis, I was still not on medication, but the results weren’t encouraging either. I was also still very uncomfortable disclosing my status – aside from the newly diagnosed course, I knew no one else who was HIV positive. So I acted on some information I received during the course and went along to the Gay Men’s Group. I did take another two months before coming back, but I knew I needed an outlet to come to terms with my status.

Over time I was able to find acceptance by listening to others, with the shared knowledge and wealth of experience that is exchanged at the group. It also made it a lot easier being able to discuss starting medication, I felt more comfortable having another perspective than just what I was told at the GUM clinic. Finally, over time, the group has offered so much more, as a place where many new friendships have been forged.

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