By the time he turned 22, James Haines knew his HIV-1 infection would eventually lead to an even bigger challenge.
“I got the diagnosis and said ‘OK, this is not good.
I’m going to have to get tested,'” Hainess says.
Haines needed to be tested regularly and would be tested every six months.
“It would be like having to go back and forth every two months between doctors for two months,” he says.
“If you’re going to be living in the same city and you’re infected with HIV, you’re at a much higher risk of being diagnosed,” he explains.
“The more you were infected, the more likely you were to develop the disease.”
For most people, the virus that causes HIV infection is present in the blood and secretes antibodies.
But Hainesse’s immune system was different.
“We had no antibodies, and we had no blood tests,” he recalls.
“So we had to go to a clinic and get a blood test every six to eight months.”
He needed to stay on the right side of the virus for the tests to detect the virus in his body.HIV has a very low prevalence in people who are HIV-negative, meaning that if you have antibodies, you are more likely to get the virus than if you don’t.
“When I was diagnosed, I knew I had a very high risk of infection,” he said.
“But I also knew that I had to do everything I could to stay positive.”
Hainesse said he had been tested every three months, but only once, and he was so stressed about the test results that he lost the will to fight.
“That was a big thing, that you don’ want to lose hope and you don'”t want to be in denial about it, he said, adding that he never went to a doctor and asked for a repeat test.
“You’re not going to get better until you get tested every month,” he explained.
“After I tested negative, I started seeing my family a lot more, because I started feeling a lot better and a lot happier.”HIV is a chronic virus that can take years to develop and can be transmitted from person to person.
Hospital admissions and deaths from the virus have soared in Australia and have become one of the countrys most pressing public health issues.
“Most people get diagnosed and they’re diagnosed and get tested,” Hainessen says.
“Then they get treated and they go home and their lives are over.”
“The virus is so much more difficult to catch and manage.”
But the reality is that people can be at risk of contracting the virus even if they don’t have HIV.
“In some ways, we have this amazing epidemic where we have a huge number of people who have tested negative,” he warns.
“There’s probably about 200,000 people who haven’t been tested who could potentially be infected, and that’s the most serious concern.”
Hainsesse’s experience has given him the confidence to continue to fight for change.
“People are still dying,” he observes.
“And I don’t think there’s any reason to think that that’s going to stop.”HIV causes the death of many people in Australia, including my wife and I.
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