Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Blood Results Shatter Man's World

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Blood Results Shatter Man's World

Article excerpt

JOHN is silent. He's on the other end of the phone line and can't answer the question.

You can hear him taking a deep breath to steady his nerves and pull himself together, stop the tears.

Near-death experiences tend to do that to a man and John's brush with death on two occasions has affected him in perhaps more ways than he's realised.

Twelve years ago, the former Sunshine Coast resident visited his doctor's surgery during his lunch hour to hear results of standard blood tests.

C[pounds sterling]My doctor was more shocked than I was when the tests showed I was HIV positive,C[yen] John said.

C[pounds sterling]He didn't know what to do, having never dealt with anyone with AIDS, and in those days there was no counselling or support.C[yen]

Tuesday was World AIDS Day and provided an opportunity to reflect on what we can do, as individuals and collectively, to support people living with HIV and also to prevent further HIV infection.

The 39-year-old may have been surprised by the lack of support 12 years ago, but these days he's just as disappointed that as a community we haven't moved forward very much at all.

It's this support and community awareness, John says, that society really needs to work on.

He has taken on that challenge and volunteers at Queensland Positive People (QPP), providing advocacy, support and social contact for people living with HIV or AIDS.

He runs monthly social groups on the Sunshine Coast, providing an outing for people who would otherwise have no social contact because of lack of money and/or the stigma associated with their illness. Some have friends who have died from AIDS and honour their memories by lending a hand or providing transport to the social outings

A few carers come along, providing additional support.

They may wonder whether the tide will ever turn towards a land of empathy and understanding, however, people like John don't wait around to find out.

They are doing whatever they can, in their own quiet and unassuming ways, to stand up for HIV/AIDS sufferers.

When John was first diagnosed with HIV, he refused all medical treatment, fearing the stigma surrounding the illness. …

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