Mr Gay England 2018: ‘HIV is no longer a life sentence’ | UK News

An eight-year study that looked at 1,000 gay male couples has found the end of the HIV pandemic could be in sight.

The research looked at relationships between a HIV positive partner, who was taking antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus, and a partner who does not have the infection.

Over the course of the whole study, the virus was not transmitted once.

Phillip Dzwonkiewicz was diagnosed with HIV in 2007.

The 36-year-old, who won Mr Gay England in 2018, has shared his reaction to the results of the study:

This isn’t just great news for the gay community, it’s great news for everyone.

The idea that you can no longer pass HIV on is huge news.

It’s important that people know having the virus is no longer a life sentence.

When you are a HIV person, the fear of passing it on is such a debilitating thing.

To now have it confirmed that you can’t pass it on, and it’s a medical fact, is really empowering.

I am on antiretroviral medication and have been for about six years.

The drugs have been available since the outbreak, so since the 1980s, but medication constantly changes.

Back when I found out I had HIV the landscape was very different.

I was distraught, I thought it was the end of the world.

But flash forward 12 years and we are now unable to pass it on as long as we’re on medication.

Mr Dzwonkiewicz won Mr Gay England in 2018
Image:
Mr Dzwonkiewicz won Mr Gay England in 2018

Of course I wish the drugs in their current form had been available earlier.

If antiretroviral drugs in this form were available earlier then I might not have contracted HIV.

But life is what it is.

When I was diagnosed medical science was in not in as fit a shape as it is now.

You can’t be mad at something that wasn’t around, or annoyed at the fact it wasn’t around.

I work as a peer support worker with the HIV charity Positive East, and the recent findings are purely positive news.

I think this development is a really exciting thing, it sends out a really powerful message.

It’s a really important tool to let people know that if they do become HIV positive, with medication and strict adherence to taking your medication on time, then you cannot pass it on, and you can’t put your partner at risk.

With the results of the study being such a big story, it helps break barriers and tell people with HIV that they can live a long and healthy life.

I think it’s very, very important, that the conversation now changes to people taking responsibility for their own sexual health.

As soon as people take responsibility for their own sexual health, we can get on top of things like HIV, and other infections like super gonorrhoea can be a thing of the past.

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