Justin had turned 21 years of age in October 2009. Just two weeks later, on hearing the news that his partner at the time was killed in a car accident Justin attempted suicide and spent three days in hospital. Justin was called back some time after being discharged and told that he was HIV positive, a diagnosis that gave him the will to live. BGF helped Justin find a home, re-establish himself, and return to study.
Justin had turned 21 years of age in October 2009. Just two weeks later, on hearing the news that his partner at the time was killed in a car accident Justin attempted suicide and spent three days in hospital. Justin was called back some time after being discharged and told that he was HIV positive, a diagnosis that gave him the will to live.
"Whenever you hear this sort of diagnosis you feel like it is some sort of judgement and I grew up in a Catholic family. I came out at 15 at a really young age. I haven’t talked to my dad since 2009 because he just couldn’t take it.
"I didn’t feel abandoned but I was disappointed. On one hand I’d just tried to kill myself but on the other hand I was diagnosed with HIV and I wanted to live," Justin said.
Justin was clear about the discrinimation endured by people living with HIV, but decided he wanted to change people's perceptions about what it is like to live with HIV.
"It’s not really good for someone whose been diagnosed – it’s like a new identity that you have to take on. There is a social stigma behind this label. Some people see you as a real evil threat to their personal life and that’s really painful.
"I think I was never being dishonest with my health status. I’m very honest with my friends. If I’m healthy and happy then people don’t see living with HIV as such a terrible thing. A lot of people really lose their faith in life and luckily I didn’t," Justin said.
BGF helped Justin find a home, re-establish himself, and return to study. Justin has had positive experiences with BGF and found a helpful team who care.
"From my perspective, without BGF if I didn’t know about them, life would be a lot harder. I wouldn’t be living where I am today and I’d be struggling with rent. I wouldn’t be able to do university at this time," Justin said.
Justin is also very grateful to everyone who donates to support the work of BGF.
"The way BGF runs when the donors donate they are actually giving a chance to marginalised people in society to start a new life. It is important for this marginalised group of people to feel the support from society so that they don’t feel abandoned and they still have faith in their lives and that they can move on.
It’s really important for people who are HIV positive to feel that they are part of society and that this behaviour – donations and support for BGF - shows that we are not being ignored in society. Ignoring people is one of the most hurtful experiences that we can be feeling," Justin said.