I was diagnosed in 2002 and consider myself very fortunate to have lived with HIV for the past 20 years with no ill health related to my status and have not had any negative impact as a result of my medication. I’ve been on the Pos Life Board since 2017, and over the past five years I’ve learnt the most valuable thing I bring to the table is my point of view, my lived experience and that of people I know who are positive.
I’ve been actively out on the Sydney scene since the mid 90s and, like most gay men at the time, I had lost friends to AIDS, knew lots of men who were positive and in the late 90’s was also in my first sero-discordant relationship. Keeping abreast of what was happening with transmissions and medications was part of my life. It was during this time that I picked up my first copy of Talkabout which then became a regular read. Keeping up with advances in medicine became even more significant once I seroconverted in 2002. By 2014 I began to work on an art installation (www.insideoutexhibition.com.au) centred on my experience of being positive. It also turned into my ‘coming out’.
It was through my interactions with the then-President, now CEO, Jane Costello, and the then-CEO Craig Cooper and Pos Life that I gained the strength and confidence to be authentic and be able to speak openly and without shame about being positive and it was at this time that I discovered the real value of peer to peer support, speaking with people who have been through similar experiences, and could relate, was so very important to my healing and growing process.
I feel the focus should always remain on the current needs of the body positive. Remaining current allows the team at Pos Life to ensure they are advocating for the body positive where it matters most to them but also provide relevant information and services. While I always felt that being on a Board meant you needed a certain skillset or range of capabilities, what I’ve learnt from the Pos Life Board is that the value is in the richness of each lived experience.
Published in Talkabout #202 April 2022