At 23, Abby developed severe cold sores for the first time in her life. A rash spread like fire across her body. And she could barely get out of bed. All symptoms of HIV.
Even so it took multiple visits to doctors, a trip to the emergency room, research on Google, and Abby then insisting on an HIV test before she was diagnosed as HIV positive.
Why? Because often when health care professionals see people like Abby - a heterosexual female living in Australia - HIV doesn’t come to mind.
Abby is a minority within a minority.
And at the time she felt a lot of fear and shame as a result of internalised stigma.
“One of the key things that really allowed me to come to terms with my diagnosis and to start to thrive was my connection with other HIV positive people and in particular, other HIV positive women,” said Abby.
With the support of BGF, Abby was able to participate in a women’s retreat, known at PozQuest, where she worked through her early fears and feelings with other women living with HIV.
“Since then I’ve learned more and experienced firsthand the amazing work that BGF does caring for those within our community that need support the most,” said Abby.
Abby is grateful she has a supportive network of friends and family and full time employment. She says she feels lucky that she’s still so healthy and well, despite living with HIV.
Abby is passionate about educating people about the virus and lessening the stigma. She even serves as a Board member for BGF. In the future, she hopes to do a lot more to support the HIV community.
Outside of being an advocate for the HIV community, Abby plans to continue to work as a lawyer and do all of the things she had planned to do before she had HIV.
“I am so grateful for the support that BGF has offered to me and other people within the community over the years, said Abby. “BGF will always hold a special place in my heart.”