Rod, age 55 / Tasmania, Australia

portrait_Rod

It’s strange to say: I was living in Sydney in the 1980s when the newspapers, every week when they came out, they had dozens of people dying from HIV. I didn’t know of any of them, and so I must have been moving in a completely different circle of friends. Whereas other people, they knew nearly everybody on that list. And it was really weird, just the difference in, uh, some of the people, were total victims. They felt and acted like a victim in the way they responded to life in general, but also to everything HIV-related. And I don’t see myself as a victim at all, yeah.

My 20s were amazing. My 30s were fantastic. My 40s were fun. My 50s have been damn good so far. In terms of HIV, I’m not worried about whether it’s going to progress to anything nasty. You know, if in – whatever it is, 15 years from now – if I haven’t had any HIV-related illnesses by now then, you know, I’m doing a fairly good job.

I was probably annoyed, more than anything. Annoyed because I’d had – by that stage – 20 years of, you know, being really good about it. Condoms every time, being really careful. And then to suddenly find that I converted? It wasn’t – I was more annoyed than anything. Um, I wouldn’t say that I was devastated. It was a case of just, get on with life, really, which I did.

My health was really good, and I’ve always been very healthy, even throughout the whole 15 years of being positive. Stayed off pills for five years, and then it just got to the point eventually where– when the guidelines said below 500 CD4 count, the doctor finally said, yeah, probably time that I went on pills. So, that was ten years ago.

There are other health issues, like, I injured my hips really badly. I injured my, my lower back – and I’ve reinjured it twice since then, because I was really unfit. So we’ve been on a bit of a health kick, going to a personal trainer to improve the core strength so that I don’t have to walk around with crutches. Lost ten kilos in – or whatever, however many pounds that is – um, ten kilograms in weight. And, um, six-pack for the first time in my life! At 55. I’m very happy with that.