04

Apr

Woman Uses HIV-Positive Status To Spread Awareness

Abby Landy

HIV isn’t a disease limited to gay men. Twenty-eight-year-old Abby Landy learned this under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

After a former lover sent her a text message five years ago that said “I hope you remember me forever,” she began suffering from a fever shortly after and broke out in a rash of cold sores. However, her doctor told her that her chances of contracting HIV were “slim” because she was a heterosexual woman living in Australia.

But after starting a new relationship and getting a sexual health screen, Landy demanded an HIV test and found out she was HIV-positive.

“I was still really crook at this point and the doctor was really visibly distressed. She said, ‘I’m so sorry but it looks like you’ve contracted HIV,’ said Landy. “I saw a specialist and he laid down the facts. I said, ‘When am I dying? When does this mean?’”

But after learning that HIV wasn’t in fact a death sentence, she began sharing her story to raise awareness that anyone can contract this disease. She also wants to address that doctors’ failures to diagnose HIV is far too common.

“I had no idea of what it meant to have HIV in 2012. I assumed it was game over. “He said, ‘Look, it’s a really manageable chronic illness. You take a couple of pills a day. People live next to normal lives’. And that’s when I thought, ‘OK, life does continue,’” said Landy.

“People assume ‘of you’re not black or a gay man then you must be a slut. But I think the reason I have avoided a lot of the discrimination a lot of people with HIV and AIDS face is because I’m really open about it,” she added. “I’m really unapologetic. I’m not ashamed. It is what it is. I think the way you present it goes a long way to how people will react to you.”