QUB research into stigma in gay men living with HIV

Photo: William Murphy, 2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/

Stigma experiences, well-being and medication adherence in gay men living with HIV

If you live in England, Northern Ireland, or the Republic or Ireland and are over 18 years of age, been living with HIV for over a year, and have been prescribed HA-ART medication then a researcher from Queen’s University Belfast would like 20 minutes of your time:

It’s for a study exploring stigma in gay men living with HIV, and how this influences well-being and management of HIV medication.

For more information click here.

Irish Independent says “Aids virus”: what century are we living in?

“…the Aids virus…” in the Irish Independent, p.19, Tuesday 21 July 2015.

This evening I was reading a copy of today’s Irish Independent as I ate my evening meal. I was somewhat taken aback to read on page nineteen:

Aids virus hope

A teenage girl born with the Aids virus…

This is very bad reporting of an issue about someone living with HIV. I begin to wonder what century the Irish Independent is living in. To quote the NAT Guidelines for reporting HIV,

“HIV and AIDS are different, and it’s important to make this clear. As it is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms, AIDS cannot itself be transmitted, nor can there be an AIDS virus, nor an AIDS carrier. Someone either does or does not have AIDS. There are no degrees of AIDS, so the expression ‘full blown AIDS’ is meaningless.”

Guidelines for reporting HIV, June 2010.

Let me emphasize:

…AIDS cannot itself be transmitted, nor can there be an AIDS virus,…

It really is not that complicated.

I am writing to the Editor of the Irish Independent seeking an assurance that the newspaper will amend how it reports issues surrounding HIV in the future. Perhaps someone in Ireland needs to do an Irish version of the Australian website, HIV Media Guide. Anyone willing to help?

Stitches in the other two – makes me worried

On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015

Yesterday, I was in bits all day. One of our three cats, Niamh, was at the vet’s from about nine in the morning until six in the evening. Quite simply she was having the operation that all domestic cats ought to have, she was being neutered. This was the first time that I, as a cat owner – sorry member of cat staff – had to drop one of the furry friends off to the vet on my own. Andrew, had done this many times, but I had never done it. Until yesterday.

Off we went in a taxi called by Hailo, which is a very convenient and useful app available for hailing taxis. Niamh was in her carrier placed on the back seat of the vehicle with the door of the carrier against the door of the car so she didn’t get too frightened. We arrived at the Botanic Veterinary Hospital opposite the National Botanic Garden in Glasnevin. A lovely practice with very helpful staff, I was immediately put at my ease, and more importantly so was our little princess, Niamh. I left her in and walked back to the house. On my way I walked down the Royal Canal Way and bumped into a statue of Brendan Behan and found quite a number of what seem to be very deep locks in the canal.

On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015
On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015

All day I was worried about her, as were the other two feline residents: Scholastica (her mother) and Richard (her brother). All was quiet in the house. In the early evening I walked back up the Royal Canal Way and up to Glasnevin, Niamh was fine, she was awake from the anaesthetic and was a little grumpy (understandably). We used Hailo again and got back to the house just after Andrew had arrived home from work. Then came the awkward bit, we had to separate the cats as Richard started to growl at his sister. I suspect it is because she smells funny from having been at the vets’. But it really is not helpful.

This morning, Andrew has to go to get stitches removed from his head following minor surgery to remove a cyst last week. Niamh has to return to the vet on Thursday for a check up, and then a week later to have her stitches removed.

I love how there are so many places to go for a walk in and around this city, I will have to introduce Andrew to the Royal Canal Way.

Back in March 2009, on diagnosis, I never thought that I would ever have cats, and I never ever dreamed that I would have a loving husband, but I have both. And life is well worth living.

The first of us to leave…

Good bye to Gibraltar from the cats.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scholastica, Niamh, and Richard are all set for the beginning of their great adventure. They are going just across the border to La Línea de la Concepción to begin their chauffeur-driven journey to Caergybi. They have no need of quarantine as they have their nice Gibraltarian EU pet passports. They are the equivalent of the Red ID card! We will retrieve them from there on Tuesday. And then we all will go and welcome them to their new abode in Dublin.


Oh, did I forget to announce that?

Yes. Andrew and I have enjoyed our time in Gibraltar, but he has got a new job in the Irish capital, working with another technology company, also as a technical writer… so we are moving there effective Monday afternoon.

So, I am sure there will be a whole new set of posts about negotiating the Irish system of healthcare. I have a couple of posts to put up about Gibraltar when I leave. But in the midst of all the moving… there is simply not time.

Over 400 signatories asking Nigel Farage for HIV apology.

Nigel Farage during the Leaders’ Debate.
ACT UP is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals, united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic.

Along with 375 other people and 44 organisations, I signed the letter composed by ACT UP London, an HIV activist group, which corrects inaccuracies in Nigel Farage’s claims during the televised leaders’ debate in the run up to the UK Parliamentary General Election.

During the leaders’ debate on 2 April, Mr Farage claimed: “Here’s a fact… there are 7,000 diagnoses in this country every year for people that are HIV positive… 60% of them are not British nationals.” He further stated treatment costs up to £25,000 per year per patient. Each of these claims is inaccurate, addressed by the letter with reference to the accurate statistics.

Mr Farage’s claims are wild, and scaremongering. They will divide our communities and further create stigma to people who are living with HIV. Read more

FP Robinson Conscience web

Every now and then, politicians surprise me. For instance, The Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA is supporting religious freedom and freedom of conscience. This has been highlighted by Faith and Pride:

Perhaps you should read what Faith and Pride has said about his comments…

Support Religious Freedom, Support Same-Sex marriage

Good bye to Gibraltar from the cats.

Sorry everyone, life has been getting in the way of posting. Living here in Gibraltar, I have not been brilliant at taking some time to sit down and record how life is. Perhaps that is because it has been so good recently. Well so good in comparison to what it was when the blog was first started.

However, I aim to record some thoughts at least once every two days from now on as I have always found it to be helpful in keeping me sane.

Today I give thanks for Andrew. For without him and his love, I would be nothing today. Indeed, I doubt very much if I would be here at all.

Poacher turned gamekeeper

Andrew safely home with cat bite wounds dressed.
Andrew safely home with cat bite wounds dressed.

On Boxing Day, foolishly Andrew joked that it had been a while since we had been to A&E. Then earlier this evening, Scholastica was sitting on Andrew’s knee and he had to get up to check on the apple crumble. Yes Andrew is a great maker of apple crumble.

Scholastica is deaf. Sometimes she panics if you try to move her and she does not know that that is what you are about to do. Tonight, she panicked. Bit Andrew’s right index finger. He says it felt like it went right down to the bone.

Remember, I am a First Aider. St John training kicked in (as well as a good dose of being a Scout leader too). We went straight to the bathroom. Ran cold water over the wound—it was only after doing so that we realised it was three not one. After cleaning the wound, and drying it with the closest clean cloth we had (a facecloth that had only just been put back on the pile after being through the laundry), I took a plaster out of the box and placed it on his finger covering as many wounds as we could.

At this point, Andrew started going into shock. We laid him down on the ground, head on the floor, feet elevated and resting on the side of the bath. Richard, the tabby cat that we nicknamed Cœur-de-Lion, arrived in the bathroom to check on his two daddies. He sat on Andrew’s chest and helped to keep him calm. At this point, with the casualty safely resting where he couldn’t get into any more trouble (well, not easily), I consulted the First Aid Manual on animal bites. It suggested that if a deep wound was suspected that we should go immediately to hospital and seek medical attention, preferably calling an ambulance to get there.

Well, we live in Gibraltar. To be more specific we live on Main Street in Gibraltar, about five minutes’ walk away from St Bernard’s Hospital, and Andrew said that he could walk there. Well, we got him off the floor, and then sat on a chair in the living room, whilst I darted about collecting his health card, house keys, taking laundry off the heaters, and switching off the oven with the apple crumble in it. We decided that if it was better to switch off and start again than to leave it and have it burnt.

With everything ready, including both our Kindles in case of long waits (can you tell we’ve been to A&E elsewhere before?), we set off. Across Irish Town, along Line Wall Road, down the American Steps and on towards St Bernard’s. On arrival we made our way to A&E, made ourselves known to reception (fortunately they didn’t say “Oh you again!”), and after a short wait (very short not like the City Hospital, Belfast), we were shown into triage.

The triage nurse took brief medical history, and took us to examine the wounds properly. She further cleansed them, and dressed them. She then did a quick check to make sure that Andrew had Tetanus immunity. Fortunately he did, so no needles required. We were sent back on our way.

We are now back home, the apple crumble is back on, with about ten minutes to go.

Tonight, Andrew got me back. For all the times when he has been up to A&E in the Ulster Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and the Belfast City Hospital, looking after me — even when we were not going out together. (Honest, we weren’t going out when I had that dreadful migraine in November 2010. And yes, I do still know the name of the cute paramedic who came to take me to the Ulster. If you’re reading Paul, many thanks.) Seriously, it felt very strange for me to be the responsible adult and him to be the patient. But thank you to St John for training me and at least the skills have been put to good use.

If you are reading this, and don’t think you would have known what to do, please consider going on a First Aid course. I highly recommend the St John courses, for further information on local St John organisations please visit St John International. There are other First Aid trainers as well. But I am in St John so I recommend them.