Jan, age 64 / Mataura, New Zealand


It was the 15th of January, 2002. I had a needlestick injury from one of my HIV patients. I’m a nurse, a retired nurse. Once I’d finished with my patient, I got in touch with my superiors. I was taken to hospital. I had blood tests. I was put on prophylaxis straight away, within two hours, for 28 days.

I get a great deal of help from the support group in New Zealand, the organization I work for is Positive Women. And I actually caught very well with it. I think because I had worked with HIV patients, I understood what was going on; ‘cause I had that three month window, I had time to come to terms with my diagnosis, whether it was negative or positive. I did a story, through Positive Women, and it made the local newspaper. So people got to know about it that way.  I live in a small community. They all know I’m HIV-positive. They’re very supportive.

A lot of people, they tell me that I don’t deserve it because of the way I was infected, which I think is really sad. I know they mean well, but I think it’s a very sad situation to be in. I tell them that, you know, the virus doesn’t know how I was infected so it doesn’t treat me any different [than] it treats anybody else, and neither should they.

People say, “You’re living with an incurable disease. You must feel depressed!” But I don’t, I really, really don’t. Because I class myself, where I live, as one of the very lucky ones. I see people in the States, in Africa, fighting tooth and nail for their medications, for health care. And that makes me sad. My life is really good. I have the best healthcare in New Zealand, and I’m well looked after.

I’ve never been scared of death, and HIV doesn’t make that any different. I think we all have to die. You know, how we die can be a bit of an issue, but… no. I’m not scared.