Michael, age 62 / Auckland, New Zealand

portrait_Michael

I was diagnosed in September 2010. I’ve only had it 4 years. It couldn’t have been much earlier than that. Because I was in a relationship, and then after that relationship finished I got promiscuous and thought to see if I still had it at my age. And yeah, then started experimenting again.

I’m a father of 4 children, and a grandfather of 14, and a great grandfather of 2. I have 27 siblings, brothers and sisters And all my family, children, brothers, sisters, they all know I’m HIV-positive. They’re very protective.

My son accepted it, but the girls didn’t. It took them nearly a year. When I told my son, it didn’t bother him. He’s a school teacher, so you know, being educated the way he is – no thanks to me! I didn’t do none of that, it was his mother. He accepted the fact. He said, “We know you were gay, that didn’t bother us.” And he told me, “It does hurt, but we don’t want you dying, we don’t want you to be dead, we want you around.”

So, all the family, brothers and sisters are very supportive with my HIV. That’s why they say, “There’s Dad again! Loud and proud!” And I tell everybody I’m HIV-positive. First, I did have fear that they wouldn’t come near me, but then brothers and sisters always came and kissed me, hugged me. And everybody was saying, “What you’re doing that for?” “It’s just to show you we are not frightened because he’s got HIV. He’s still the same person.” So I’m lucky in that sense.

But my own daughters, it took about a year for them to come around. The grandchildren weren’t allowed to come to see me. And they used to sneak down to my place, or they had to go home early so their mother doesn’t know. “They’d been at their friend’s place” but they had been to their grandfather’s.

But now that they’ve come around, they’ve been all apologetic, but that doesn’t bother me. That’s one of the things you learn with, um, living with HIV. There’s a lot of things you’ve got to accept because it’s a reality. They don’t understand, and they need the information. So one of the things that I do for our people is go and inform them, you know? And I believe that.