Andrew doesn't have HIV, but his partner does. We asked Andrew about how HIV affects their lives, the impact his partner's HIV status has had on him and the support he feels he could benefit from.

Do what you want to do, it’s your life and it’s nothing to be ashamed of

"My partner had been unwell for a few months.

“He had went back and forth to the GP. He had loads of blood tests and went for X-rays and at the very last one the doctor said 'it is very unlikely but we will test for HIV'. So he got the test and we thought no more about it. It was impossible that he had HIV. 

“Then we got a phone call asking him to come to the GP surgery. We were taken to see the GP right away - that started alarm bells. And she just came out with it and said to him, 'You’re HIV positive'. 

“My knowledge around HIV at that time was very poor. Very, very poor. With him being so unwell I thought this is it, this is the end. I wasn’t aware of medication then, in fact, I don’t think I’d ever met anyone with HIV before. 

“When I was younger, before I met him, I was aware of it. I knew it was there but I didn’t know much about it. I had never met anybody with it. I had heard terms, at gay clubs, 'he looks like a pozzer' and stuff like that. But that was it. And that language is still present today.

“There were good experiences in the hospital, but there were also really bad experiences.

“The consultants were lovely. But there was a counsellor - and I was thinking about this last night, I think about it periodically - she was awful. She started asking me about giving blowjobs with condoms on and if it would be like sucking a sweetie with the wrapper on, stuff like that. You wouldn’t say that to a straight person. If it was a guy and his wife in there she wouldn’t have said that to them. You know, it was just the crudeness of it all.

“I think back then I would have been quite happy if I had had it too.

“I would have been able to go through it with him, better than him by himself. Then we would have been on the same stuff, we would have been going to the same place. I didn’t want to tell him that I was negative. 

“I still feel kinda guilty that I have not got it and he has. But you just get over it. You know, nothing you can do about it. It comes and goes. I am always trying to be positive for my partner when he is having a bad day: when he is not feeling well, and he is always feeling sick, or his legs aren’t good, or he has pain in his feet. 

“I have got pictures of him in high dependency with his central line in and oxygen mask on. And I came across it when I was looking through some pictures and every time I see it I think “Thank God, he’s still here”. And that changes my attitude.

“I think I am more protective of him.

“When he first got diagnosed he wanted to tell everybody, as if he didn’t have any understanding that not everybody would be kind to him. I try to say to him 'Do what you want to do, it’s your life and it’s nothing to be ashamed of', but I think he holds back on doing things because of how it will affect me. 

“He knows it is not something I want broadcast. Folk are judgmental about it, and will draw the wrong conclusions about how he got it, and what kind of lifestyle we lead, and if they know he’s got it they will think that I have got it too. 

“I told my boss. I’ve known her for years and I only told her because she is my boss and I might need time off. I knew she would be supportive but she completely surprised me because she said 'Working from home won’t be a problem if there are days when you don’t feel you want to come in. We have got great policies for carer leave and we will make full use of them'. She has been amazing and she will often ask how he is.

"There should be more support for partners and carers.

“Even now there is nowhere for me to go. During his stay in hospital nobody came to see us. They were supposed to help us with his disability payments and stuff, and give us some advice, but nobody showed up. Even now if I do want information I go online. 

“It would be amazing to speak to other people who are in this type of relationship, people that are negative but with partners who have HIV. Even if it was just every couple of months, to get together, hear how folk cope with different situations, meet somebody else who might be living with someone just like my partner, that is always sick in the mornings, and talk about how do you keep their feelings up. 

"There should be more support for us."