I have been a widow now for twenty years. My son was only two years old when his dad died. He has never known what it’s like to have a dad. My dear husband was only 32 years old when he died. He knew he was dying, he had contracted HIV and hepatitis C , he was in constant, excruciating pain and knew he was not going to see his little boy grow up. The last twenty years have been a constant
struggle for me.

Losing my husband Gary has affected my whole family.

My parents didn’t only grieve for my husband when he died but also grieved for me, because they could feel and see the pain that I was suffering.

Because Gary was HIV positive, we couldn’t get insurance when we bought our house. Therefore when he died, I had to sell it. I couldn’t afford the mortgage. My son and myself had to go and live with my parents. I didn’t just lose my husband; we lost our home with all of our shared memories in

Having seen how my husband had suffered, I was too terrified to be tested myself. Therefore I lived for years in constant fear of whether or not I too was infected. I became paranoid about not letting other people use plates or cutlery or towels etc. of mine just in case I was infected. I feared passing it on to my son or parents or anyone else. I was terrified that my son was going to be left an orphan. I was afraid of him being teased and being different when he started school, because he didn’t have a dad.

I watched my husband fade from a 10 to 11 stone man to a skeletal seven to eight stone husk of a man. He could do very little for himself as he was so weak and in so much pain. His skin and the whites of his eyes were yellow. He was on AZT for HIV but in those early days the dose was far too
strong and they were in fact poisoning him, so he really didn’t stand a chance. The hepatitis C caused him to develop cirrhosis of the liver and his liver was so swollen that he couldn’t eat and could only bear liquids.

We were terrified to tell anybody of his condition for fear of the stigma that was attached to it. He was forced to give up work as he was physically unable. We lived in our own prison full of dread and fear. We were in a dark place, full of illness and pain and worried how we would pay bills and cope.

I have had to rely heavily on the help of my parents both emotionally and financially for twenty years. Although the government has provided help in some ways over the years, it still doesn’t provide the independence and security that we deserve. We don’t have the financial security that
we would have had. None of this was our fault. Terrible things have been covered up and swept under the carpet, things that could have been avoided. Decisions that were made that were wrong.


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