Steve & Wendy’s HIV Story | WA AIDS Council
My understanding of HIV would have been just the TV advertisements of the grim reaper. A new issue, and it was just something that was there you know. It really wasn’t related to us was it? No. And then they suggested that I go and get tested. Well, I didn’t think for one minute, one minute. And then, when we did and I was, it was, well, double whammy. We just sort of got to the initial kind of thinking that it was just Steven and at least I’ll be here for Tanika but, mm. And Tanika must have only been five or six months old I suppose, if even that, And I was um, just crying on front door holding her “What have we done?” you know. “What have we done to you?” Went to my Mum and Dad and um, my Dad said, ah, we sat them down and I said Steven and I are HIV positive. And my Dad said, God bless him, beautiful man, said “The bloke at work’s got the flu as well. I’ll put the kettle on.” And that’s where it ended. As far as, when we were diagnosed and that, and that was um uh, 30 years ago in 1987, we never even thought that we would be here now. It’s happened to Wendy lots of times. You know, went to see a dentist and and everything was covered in plastic, the chairs … the place had been cleaned out of patients. And everything was… door handle as she knocked on, you know, went to open the door. The whole thing was all just covered up in plastic. When I went in to Royal Perth, I was put out in the veranda, not with the other … I wasn’t with the other women. And the rain came through, um, a little gap in the ceiling, and this was a veranda, it was for storage. And, you know I was getting wet, but I had HIV, that’s where I belonged. And another incident. I remember at, um, the old school, one of the girls said to me um, “I remember all the time that you used to go to the Court Hotel, it all fits in now.” She was about 20-25, and I said “Fits in how?” She said “With you being HIV and being with the gay people and that.” And I thought, my goodness. Unfortunately, or fortunately, two ways of looking at it, I fell pregnant. We always wanted six, seven children. I remember a particular doctor, at Royal Perth saying to me, “what have you done?” My Mum had Tanika for the day, because I came home, and, you know, “Mum, you want to know…” oh she knew that I was pregnant. What, where I went and all that, and “I have made cake”. And I remember, she made a cake, so she was a bit in denial. Didn’t want to know. Mm. Cake made everything better. But I do remember Stephen’s Dad saying, you know what you have to do, you don’t know what you’re going to do to this child and that was the decision, I decided to terminate. That would probably be my only regret in my life. I’m not, I don’t regret the HIV, I don’t regret anything else, but the fact that we could only, we ended up only with one child, because not long after that, Karen had a baby. Maybe, what, six months ago after that I suppose? She was a positive woman, and she had a baby and the baby’s fine. When we look back, Tanika just presumed every parent took, 32 tablets in the morning, or, you know, that much, I’m exaggerating. But, um, that’s one good thing that has come out is that we’re down to four! But we take, multivitamins, but four that is amazing. The treatments have been fantastic and the medical help we’ve had from Royal Perth and the IIID has been awesome. HIV will not kill me in any way. It will be other, getting old, knee reconstruction, or whatever. Cranky husband. (Laugh). Um. I’ve lost some members of my family, you know, haven’t spoken to me since, um, That’s ok. Yeah. Well. We can’t keep dwelling on it. And um. They never approached me about their issues. I did. But um, they just said, we want you to formally write an apology. Because I told of an incident that we went to, and it’s the very first thing that ever happened to us. um, we went to a family function and there was a table in the corner with plastic knives and forks and that was for Stephen and I. We weren’t to mix with the rest of the crowd at this restaurant. Our personal relationship, Wendy and mine, I think it’s impacted there, from a psychological point of view with affection and our sexual relationship between the two of us. I think Wendy’s taken it a lot harder or made it a lot more complex than it needs to be made. You know, it’s as if it’s um, “I’ve picked this up through sex, so that’s naughty”. They had said “How did you get it?” and we said “We don’t know.” Um, I think I gave it to Stephen, I was overseas, had sex with a man and, unprotected sex. Stephen also had traveled and um, It could have been one or the other, either or. but all, we’ve been married for 32 years and probably, about three years ago, in this conversation, he said to me after, “I don’t want you … you’ve been saying that all this time, that you think it was you, um, we don’t know and so I don’t want you to say that.” But I didn’t realise that. Looking back, um, I’d say that we wasted probably five or six years of our lives of not telling an awful lot of people and just shutting down as if we have life sentence. With work, just about all my work colleagues know, the people I deal with at my suppliers know. Worksite was involved in a lot of union activity, strike activity, this sort of stuff. And we were sitting in the sheds one day, and one of the guys said, “Let’s all go and, instead of just sitting around here playing cards, let’s all go and donate blood, do something reasonable. And I thought how the freaking heck am I going to do this? How am I going to get out of this? You know, twenty, twenty other electricians, maybe a few more, and me, and I couldn’t turn around and say no and, because you, everyone was doing the right thing. At the school I was working at, about two or three sets of parents went to the headmaster and said “We want her removed from the school” and he said, “No, I’ll remove you. Wendy stays here.” Um, and there was a staff meeting and it all came out, and it was just terrifying. And then people were just, supportive, amazing. And out of that came a very very positive thing. A member of staff had four boys. She went home and told the boys and they still had unprotected sex. So this was maybe five, six years ago, and that brought awareness to them, so I thought, well, some good came out of it. I’ve never had any negatives about it and if I did, if someone was negative, I’d probably tell them to go and get photographed. Yeah, the future is really good. And as I’ve said before, you wouldn’t want to be dead for quids, life is just too good, even with HIV. There’s things I want to achieve, one of them, um, live to 80 or 90, which I don’t think is going to be an issue. It won’t be the HIV that gets me. Well I hope that I’m in his future, because I didn’t get a mention, but, I don’t know. I’m sixty next month. I’m so, so god damn happy that, not that I’m sixty, but that I’ve got there. Like when you look back 32 years. Wow! If you open up Google, yes, there’d probably be some negative experiences. But they need to learn to deal with that, not you. You know, looking back, just thinking of that time, it was quite amazing. We’re very lucky in that what we’re doing, and the people that we met on our journey.