I remember the day I found out I had HIV. I was at the doctor with my niece who knows English better than me. The doctor sat across from us and looked nervous. He said to me, “I have to tell you, you have AIDS.” He gave some papers to my niece and asked her to explain it to me. I was in shock.
I thought I would be dead very soon. I thought I had the flu working too hard. No-one told me I was having an HIV test.
I never thought this could happen to me. In my country we thought only people who use drugs and people who are sex workers could get it. I’ve learned a lot more about HIV now.
That was four years ago. My life changed a lot after that day including the way I think about myself. I realise the doctor was wrong to do it like that and I don’t think he knew much about HIV.
The doctor and the nurse at the clinic where I go now are good. They help me a lot and I can talk to them. They help me understand how I can live with this HIV.
Today, my niece and I don’t talk about it. I don’t think she told anyone. Although she did change after that and became more distant. I have always been worried I might give it to someone else, like my grandchildren. At the clinic they tell me about being ‘undetectable’ and about the ‘virus load’. Those sorts of things. I know I can’t infect anyone or make my family sick, but I worry about it all the same. It’s a big stress, but I’m glad I’m not dead.
My family are everything for me and all the time I have to keep my secret. All the time I try to make sure they never see my tablets or see me going to the clinic. I always worry can people tell I’m HIV positive when I am at the church or the shops.
Sometimes I really want to tell my children and my sister. But I am so scared what they will think. I don’t think they will accept me.
Sometimes I wonder, what did I do to get this thing?
The nurse at the clinic told me maybe I got it from my husband. I don’t like to think about that. He died after we came to Australia. I miss him.