“There is still a lot of shame and stigma, and you feel alone”


“He gave me a lot of shame say I have HIV. There are there is still a lot of stigma and you feel alone”, He says John, a 39-year-old Barcelona resident who was infected three and a half years ago. He doesn’t want to give his last name or agree to be photographed. “People think we get it because we don’t take precautions, but [los hombres que tienen sexo con hombres] we become infected not just by having more sex, but by sexual practices. This does not mean that the population Heterosexual be more careful,” he said.

Joan was one of 45 participants in the clinical test of the therapeutic vaccine from the Fundació Lluita Against Infections, which does not cure the virus but replaces the antiretrovirals that people living with HIV must take every day. He was infected in 2019 and, since he already knew the symptoms of the infection (“because I have cases in my environment”), he knew about it quickly. “I had one very high fever in summer and the alarms went off,” he said as part of World AIDS Day today. He tested positive by PCR.

how was the infection “recently”, John entered into the therapeutic vaccine study. He was referred by BCN Checkpoint, the specialist HIV diagnostic center where the test was performed. The foundation was therefore looking for volunteers for this investigation. “As I had been detected early, I was more willing for the new drugs to work because I don’t have as much viral reservoir, Explain.

For him, the importance that this vaccine advances is that, thanks to it, I wouldn’t have to take antiretrovirals. “A person’s concern when infected with HIV is that You don’t know how your life will change. This worried me a lot. Yes [la medicación] It would affect my kidneys, for example. I was also very worried always be linked to a pick-up: I can’t leave for six months to go around the world,” says Joan. once a month in the hospital look for his medication, which he must take daily.

“Familiar” with the virus

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Although knowing he was infected It was very hard,” Joan believes he was prepared because “in the gay world, the incidence is very high”. “We always know someone who has HIV and we are very familiar with the virus.” His family and friends are aware of his situation.

At the German Trias i Pujol Hospital (Can Ruti, in Badalona), where he was treated, he was also offered accompaniement. And, although he has the support of those close to him, he recognizes that the diagnosis was a before and an after. “There’s a year or two where you experience it differently… You are not doing well”, concludes.

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