Working with Women and AIDS: Medical, Social, and Counselling Issues

By Judy Bury; Val Morrison et al. | Go to book overview

12

Being positive

Kate Thomson

Positively Women is a self-help group for women with HIV infection. Its origins go back to the beginning of 1987. At that time I had recently been diagnosed HIV positive and was feeling completely isolated. After eight years or so of heavy drug use, I had been ‘clean’ for about three and felt like I’d really got my act together. All the court cases, probation orders, etc. were out of the way, I’d made new friends, found a job, and was doing evening classes, planning to go on to university: a whole new life—a new start—and I felt really proud of myself. I had come a long way.

At that time there was more and more talk of AIDS on the TV and in the papers and, although I thought I was probably OK, I realised that I might well have been at risk in the past through my ‘using’ and, I suppose, though I didn’t think about it then, through unprotected sex which I was still having. When I came down with shingles I was aware that it could be a sign of HIV infection and since I was feeling pretty run down anyway, I decided to be tested. I never really believed that I would be positive; I think I just wanted confirmation that I was in the clear. So when the result came back positive I was stunned and completely unprepared. That is not to say that you can ever be totally prepared for a positive result but you can definitely be more prepared and informed than I was at that time. I was basically not counselled either before or after my test.

I felt utterly alone, not knowing anyone else who had been diagnosed, and I wanted to talk about how I was feeling. But I didn’t really think that my friends would be able to understand, not having been through the same experience themselves. My relationships and friendships really suffered because of this distance that I felt had come between us. I was soon sick of hearing social workers, health advisors and doctors saying they understood—I didn’t really see how they could if they had not had a positive diagnosis themselves.

I met some gay men who were positive and that was great—a real relief to be able to talk about my fears around dying, and other such things. Yet it

-135-

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Working with Women and AIDS: Medical, Social, and Counselling Issues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Background Issues 7
  • 1 - Women and the Aids Epidemic 9
  • 2 - Social Issues 23
  • 3 - Reflections on Women and Hiv/Aids in New York City and the United States 32
  • Part II - Contraception and Pregnancy 41
  • 4 - Pregnancy, Heterosexual Transmission and Contraception 43
  • 5 - Pregnancy and Hiv 58
  • References 68
  • Part III - Prostitution 69
  • 6 - Hiv and the Sex Industry 71
  • 7 - Developing a Service for Prostitutes in Glasgow 85
  • References 95
  • Part IV - Education and Counselling Issues 97
  • 8 - Education and the Prevention of Hiv Infection 99
  • 9 - Offering Safer Sex Counselling to Women from Drug-Using Communities 110
  • References 116
  • 10 - Women as Carers 117
  • Part V - Feelings and Needs 123
  • 11 - Feelings and Needs of Women Who Are Hiv Positive 125
  • 12 - Being Positive 135
  • 13 - Poems 142
  • Name Index 146
  • Subject Index 148
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