Overcoming HIV: Barry’s Story

When Barry was called to his doctor’s office for his test results, he wasn’t expecting the news that came.

He had met the love of his life, Diane, a few months earlier. They instantly knew they’d be spending the rest of their lives together, but decided to each get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for reassurance.

Flash forward to Barry sitting in his doctor’s office, his head in his hands.

“HIV?,” he said, in shock. It couldn’t be true.

But it was. Tests confirmed that Barry was positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and he immediately begin to imagine how different his life would be – a life he wasn’t sure he wanted to live.

Despite his doctor’s reassurances that medical advancements over recent decades meant that Barry would likely continue to lead a normal, healthy life, the words didn’t process. Barry’s mind was spinning.

“What will I tell my kids? How did this happen? What will Diane think?”

To Barry’s surprise, Diane didn’t seem shocked at all when he sat her down to share his news. She knew how far medicine had come, and that HIV was unlikely to take Barry’s life. She held him in her arms and promised him that everything would be okay.

“They saved my life,” he says. “They are my angels.”

But it wasn’t until Barry was connected to the Special Immunology Services (SIS) team at Hamilton Health Sciences that the dark cloud over his head began to lift. The SIS clinic provides treatment and support for individuals and families living with HIV. They’re a highly specialized team with a truly compassionate approach. Barry knows this best.

“They saved my life,” he says. “They are my angels.”

Barry received his diagnosis two years ago. Aside from a few minor symptoms, he is healthy, active and, most importantly, he is happy. He visits the SIS clinic regularly, where the team monitors him closely for overall health and any changes to the level of HIV in his system. Currently, thanks to a pill he takes just once a day, Barry’s HIV is virtually undetectable. This is the reality for many HIV patients today, for whom HIV is a very manageable disease, not a life-defining diagnosis.

“There’s no change in my life – I’m still me.

I still live with my glass overflowing. Not half full…overflowing.”

Have you been tested for HIV/AIDS? Speak with your doctor or visit a health clinic in your community for more information.

For more information about the services offered through the SIS Clinic, click here.

To learn more about AIDS and HIV, visit catie.ca.

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