Pierre’s HIV story
From the moment you understand that undetectable means you can’t transmit the virus, it allays a lot of concerns.
Because for me, my biggest fear was to transmit the virus. So, knowing that I couldn’t transmit it anymore was a huge relief.
My name is Pierre, I am 68 years old, I’ve been HIV positive for 40 years and I enjoy my life.
In 1980, it was, of course, sexual liberation for gay men and since we didn’t know that HIV existed, weren’t using protection, and so, it’s at that time that that I contracted HIV.
I was tested in 1985 and that’s when I learned I was HIV-positive. At that time, my diagnosis gave me 2 years to live. So it was recommended that I quit my job because, within a year, I would be hospitalized and in 2 years, I would be dead.
I was executive director for a company in London, Ontario. I loved my job, it was something…that I had finally reached a position I appreciated.
Since I was still feeling healthy, I kept working.
Text on screen: Treatment prevents the transmission of HIV.
At the time, for someone who was HIV-positive, it was impossible, or nearly impossible, to have a boyfriend because everyone was scared. Everyone was freaking out about it. These were very terrifying times.
In 2003, my doctor offered me a new medication and I became undetectable very quickly. To monitor the disease progression, you need to measure the number of copies of HIV in a millilitre of blood.
Undetectable means that your virus load is low enough that the testing methods fail to detect the virus’ presence in your blood.
Text on screen: U = U (undetectable = untransmittable)
It doesn’t mean that you’re cured. You have to continue taking your medication, but you can no longer transmit the illness to someone else. Today, when talking about stigma, there are people who don’t want to have relationships with HIV-positive people.
On the other hand, there are also people who say: I’d rather have a relationship with someone who is HIV-positive and who knows it and is undetectable, than with someone who’s never been tested.
Text on screen: People with HIV on treatment can live long and health lives.
When I look back at the outlook I had in 1985, when they told me I had 2 years to live, and when I look at where I am today, I find that my life is absolutely exceptional.
Text on screen: Get the facts about HIV. Together, let’s stop stigma. Visit Canada.ca/hiv.
A message from the Government of Canada.
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