Sebastian (full name known to the editorial staff) found hiv infection just a few weeks after the virus was exposed. Because of such an early diagnosis, he lives normally, he does not feel healthy life and infection at all. Regular testing is crucial, stresses.
How do you feel?
Today it's a bit cold, probably because of the weather. But if we speak in the context of a hive, I would say with one word, I say hello, because in fact I do not have any health problems.
None of them?
None of them. What I have to do from a health point of view is to go twice a year to control my extension of prescription medicines. They look at my blood count, liver and kidney function. It's more or less a routine review.
How long has it been since you were diagnosed with a Hiv virus infection?
It will be three years. At that time, I was 26 years old.
How did this happen? Have you gone to testing, did you encounter problems, or was it a regular test?
I also regularly tested every three months, such as a recommendation, for myself and for the sake of prevention. This was just an intermediate period; in autumn all the results were negative. Soon after the new year, there were symptoms, from high fever to bad feeling, I was very tired, I could not do anything, I was exhausted …
… you suspected a hive?
No, I did not think about it. I thought it was winter, it's cold, I have a flu or some kind of virosis. I went to the doctor who performed the tests and when he looked at the results, he was sent to the infectious clinic due to unusual results. They did a hive test there, which was positive. They started to treat me the same day. The diagnosis was just a matter of time if I did not get it then, two months later, when I had regular control. In any case, the infection would be detected.
According to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) in Slovenia, there are approximately 1,000 people infected with hives, of which about a third do not even know about their infection
. Confidential testing at the insurer's charge (at no extra charge) is possible at the request of a patient with a selected family doctor. It is also available in many other places around Slovenia, you can find the list
Was the diagnosis a shock?
Yes, of course, at the beginning there was a shock. When they started explaining to me, I was not the most present, I was also suffering from illness, and at that moment I did not fully understand what was happening. After the time I preloaded myself with myself and my body, I realized that it was not the end of the world and that it was normal to live with it. In addition, I always try to look positive, because I think that things happen in my life for some reason. That is why I am trying to draw something positive from this in the sense that I give interviews, so that people who live with hiv give some voice in the sense that we are not just a group about which we are talking a lot, but never meet.
Who knows about your diagnosis?
I told my mom, he knows a lot of kinship, most of his friends and colleagues.
How was Mommy taken?
It was initially shocked, but when I explained to her what this meant for further life and that it was no longer a death sentence, she understood it and today it is quite fine.
How after notification of a hiv virus to someone is the notification of former partners ongoing? Does the healthcare facility or the patient itself care for this?
I myself informed my partners, which is also advised by doctors. Alternatively, the health institution can notify the partners anonymously. When they obtain the information, they are told that one of their partners is hiv positive and advise them to come to the test.
I believe that it is the responsibility of every individual to inform everyone who needs to know if something like that happens to him. After all, this can happen to anyone.
Do you know when you got infected?
I conclude … In a high percentage I think I know.
Do you find this important?
No. This is not information that would change anything. It's what it is. I will not be better for this, no worse.
Do not get angry with this person?
No, no. As I say, it can happen to anyone.
How many medications do you need to consume daily for infection?
I receive two medicines, two tablets. Once a day, usually I set the alarm at lunch time, reminding me if I forget what can happen quickly in this fast pace of life.
What happens if you forget medicines?
If this happens once, there is no fear, but if the therapy is interrupted for several days, the virus can mutate and become drug-resistant.
What is your prognosis, will you stay on these two medicines or will the amount of medicines need to be enhanced?
Previously, I would say that the amount of medicines would be shrinking, as they were going up. Depending on the ingredients of the medicine, but I think that I will eventually come as many others, to one tablet daily. An injection of medicines is also being developed, replacing tablets for a period of one or three months. Science is evolving in this direction.
Do they have the medicines you are taking, side effects?
For now I do not notice them. Initially, there was greater fatigue, nausea, but this is on hold. At the moment, I do not feel any side effects, I do not have any medical problems, I tolerate therapy well.
People who live with leukemia and are being treated are not transmitting the virus to other people because they lower the virus to an undetectable level. When does this effect occur?
In principle, very quickly, but it is highly dependent on a case-by-case basis. If doctors find that this has not happened after half a year, they begin to think about whether the medication may be inadequate. In principle, most in half a year, a person comes to an insignificant level and when he can not pass it on at this level of the virus.
Has your sexual behavior changed since you were diagnosed with hiv?
I do not personally tell my partners that I have no problem with this. In the MSM community, awareness is nevertheless better than among the general population. I do not have any bad experiences so far. But the people who asked me how many years of my life were left. Some are fewer others, but are more willing to explain things to them, show research that proves this and then change their minds.
Last year Žurnal24 published testimonies about the discrimination and stigmatization of infected people by the health workers. Do you also have bad experiences?
I do not have bad experiences with my personal doctor, we are always talking and we have no reservations. In the dental clinic, I was initially ordered as the last one and used additional protection. Now this is no longer what happened, I do not know, maybe the dentist got more information.
At the surgical removal of the tooth, they told me that they still have such a protocol that people with hive order the latter and use increased protection. What you should do with all patients. Perhaps, before me, there was someone who does not know about his infection.
If a person is informed and informed, there is no argument that would discriminate against the patient.
Due to the low number of tested in Slovenia, a few hundred undiscovered infections. There are still many fears and concerns about testing, and the expert recommends that each person be tested at least once.
It's good for everyone to know what it is. It is also possible to test with a personal doctor. The relationship with a personal doctor is very important, and if we find out about our sexual practices, the doctor can better understand it.
People are reluctant to talk about sex, this is still a taboo topic and therefore a major obstacle. The second big obstacle is the stigma that still exists, and the third is afraid of what will happen when I get a survey. Although the probability is that nothing is wrong, big, a mini-voice is being heard, but what if it is?
Things are improving in the MSM community, the number of tests is increasing. Once someone enters the system, he gets this experience and sees that testing is not a good one, he returns.
You said that you do not hide your partners that you are infected with hiv. How do they react?
Very differently, it also depends on what their knowledge of the hive is. Those who know that if the virus is at an undetermined level, transfer is not possible, it does not matter.
In the community, I'm pretty much open about this, and I do not hide the status on certain social networks. There is an option in the app to enter the information to be positive, but not detectable. You can also enter information when you last tested. Those who start talking with me already have this information.
You look at yourself, what's their status?
Yes, I check, I fly over, but this is not something that would play an important role. I still care about this person as a man.
But if there is information about a person that does not go for testing, does it matter to you?
Yeah, he gives me some information, but if he knew that someone was not testing, he would not have rejected it. Maybe I should try to talk to him, maybe encourage him …
You belong to a generation that does not know the stigma of mentioning such a fear of the grave, as it used to be when it meant a death sentence. How is it today, there is a greater stigma or a greater fear?
Good question. Of course, my generation and young people are no longer as much fear as for the older generations. However, this is not a topic that you would talk about every day, read it, get informed. So many do not know how the development of medicines is progressing. They have a picture in the head that people who get infected get sick, get disabled, look bad, and then die due to infection.
In the younger generations this is no longer, it is more at the forefront of stigma. They are afraid of seeing people, if anything happens to them. However, the stigma decreases from generation to generation, just like in revealing sexual orientation. The younger the generation is, the more open they are, the easier it is.
You have accepted the diagnosis very rationally, you speak very openly. Has it ever been the case?
I have a kind of timetable, first I told my parents, then cousins, then friends, and so on. I'm talking to reporters on the first of December and I imagine that I will once again be on the radio when I am able to tell you on television, when I will finally process it with myself, that it does not matter what other people think, and that will not be a problem for me anymore. When I'm on this level, I can tell everyone without any hardship.
When do you think you will be at this level?
After a year. I think I'm going pretty fast along this path. Personally, I do not know anyone who would agree to a conversation, even if he was to provide anonymity.
The voice can change the voice, the video blurred on the television, but I do not approve of it. Last year they invited me to RTV and suggested that they darken the picture and change my voice, I refused this because the hiding of the stigma is even greater. When I'm on this level, I'll go to the TV and say it directly without having to cover up something.
* The photo is symbolic