A young woman has opened up about her struggle to get a diagnosis for HIV – even though her instincts told her it would come back positive. Abby Landy, from Australia, decided to have a sexual health screening after starting a new relationship, abc reports.
She had a fever and an outbreak of cold sores, which she thought was unusual and got checked out – but she wasn’t given an HIV test. “I was given some anti-virals for the cold sores and [he test] came back all clear – everything was negative,” Abby said.
Abby Googled her symptoms out of desperation and found that they were “terrifyingly similar” to those of HIV. She went back to her doctor and told her straight that she wanted to be tested for HIV, but was met with the response that as a straight Australian woman it was unnecessary.
The doctor told Abby: “It’s probably not necessary. You know, you’re an Australian woman, the chances of you having come into contact or contracting HIV are so slim that doing the test probably isn’t necessary’.”
Luckily, her HIV was diagnosed much earlier than most other women, who realise they have the disease in the late stages when it’s already done significant damage to their immune system.
Abby is now calling for HIV tests to become routine and to eradicate the stigma surrounding women with the disease.
She asks that people don’t assume they are sexually promiscuous or have multiple partners – and that HIV isn’t just a “gay man’s disease”.
“I felt a great deal of shame initially, and I was terrified. I was never going to tell anybody,” she said.
“But I started engaging in private women’s groups with other positive women … I just felt like my situation really allowed me the privilege to speak about my experience.
“After diagnosis you’re still the same person. You have a virus in your body, but you still have the same heart and soul and mind.