Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How is Daniel Reeders healthy?

Actually, it's a bit of a stretch answering that question right now. But I'm limber, so I'm gonna reach.

I'm in my third round, fourth cycle of treatment for a blood disorder that, like a vengeful ex, just keeps coming back. But I live in Australia, where our single payer prescription and mixed public/private health systems mean I can access treatment without going into debt. Although my condition is serious, I'm inspired by role models - my friends and colleagues living with HIV - to insist on my right to live with normality, not according to the social expectations of "sick" people, however "sickness" may be defined.

This year, I'm sexually versatile again, for the first time since I was nineteen. Queer has taught me to love and respect fluidity and difference, and increasingly it bugged me that I was 'stuck' in top gear (so to speak). My 'first time' felt great — possibly because, without asking, the top had removed the condom. In a striking illustration of the difference between knowledge and practice, I knew that bottom guys should check the condom whenever they change position — but we never changed position, so I didn't check until afterwards.

I kept calm and asked a few pointed questions, and the following morning I was able to access Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) without cost, at a gay-friendly clinic, through a doctor who gave me information and reassurance instead of judgment. PEP is a 28-day course of anti-HIV medication that can prevent HIV infection if started within 72 hours of exposure to the virus. The state government paid the AU$589 for my 28 days of Truvada, a single pill combination of FTC/Tenofovir, and my one month post HIV antibody test result recently came back negative.

Finally, I'm going through a breakup, two months shy of three years together. We had gone for relationship counselling before he returned to his home country for work, and I kept seeing the counsellor after he left, so I'm supported in dealing with what's happened. The service is means-tested at 0.01% of my income per session, and the whole centre is extremely gay-friendly.

Of course, the key to my health is my 'framily' — my close friends, gay and straight, who drink with me to my health, happiness and for many other reasons besides. But my health is also the many ways I'm looked after and supported, and because of the activism of my community leaders and elders, all of that happens in ways that leave me with freedom and dignity to live as an openly gay man.

-- Daniel Reeders
Melbourne, Australia

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, I think in love with you, and the Australian health system (okay, mostly you). Good luck with your treatment!


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