Rick is the site designer, admin and blogger for www.positivelives.org.au He has HIV and was infected in 1988 at the age of 16 years old. Rick was married for 12 years and has 2 children who are biologically his. Rick's ex-wife and children don't have HIV. Rick is a survivor of child abuse and neglect. He is also a survivor of HIV and plans a long and fulfilling life.
The following YouTube video is of an Australian TV advertisement that aired in 1987 when Rick was 15 years old. One year later he contracted HIV.
Rick's life following infection
Rick worked as a nurse for 15 years and his primary field of expertise was emergency nursing. Early in his career he worked at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney where he looked after patients who were dying from AIDS.
Getting married, having children and developing AIDS
Rick married a nursing student in 1998 and had 2 daughters. One in 2000 and the other in 2003. Rick took his family to Adelaide in 2001 and then back to NSW for work. In 2003 Rick developed HIV related complications where he developed what is known as AIDS dementia complex. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_dementia_complex He also had oral candidiasis. Both these conditions indicated that Rick had a profoundly compromised immune system. As a result Rick was diagnosed as having AIDS.
He was days away from death. Some of symptoms associated with AIDS Dementia Complex is memory loss, confusion, and loss of ability to walk. Fortunately he was admitted to a very good hospital and treated by one of the best HIV doctors. As a result of becoming sick Rick and his family basically lost all their possessions including two cars. Despite the devastating situation Rick's family rallied around him and provided the essential support. Vital support was also given by a HIV specific Social Worker. Rick now lives with the spectre of premature ageing, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis as result of the virus and medications.
Rick made a miraculous recovery and has regained his memory and intellectual abilities. Rick is an an optimist and is also very pragmatic. HIV has shaped his life but does not control it. Rick's ex-wife describes him as survivor. He has survived HIV, abuse and neglect.
As a result of the virus Rick has developed peripheral neuropathy.
"Peripheral neuropathy is the term for damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which may be caused either by diseases of or trauma to the nerve or the side-effects of systemic illness." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripheral_neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy affects people differently. For me I have pain and loss of sensation in my feet. I have been prescribed morphine, duloxatine and pregabalin for the pain. For the most part on the new regime I am generally comfortable.
Since 2003 Rick has gained the following qualifications:
- Diploma in paramedical science (ambulance)
- Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety
- Diploma in Business
- Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
The toll of Rick's illness finally resulted in the breakup of his marriage. He and his ex-wife still remain very close and she continues to provide vital support. Rick has always had an interest in computers and the internet. One thing that Rick felt was missing in Australia was a dedicated blog for people who are infected and/or affected by HIV.
Rick is very much family orientated. He is also very active in HIV advocacy and health education. One issue that concerns Rick is the continuing new infections of HIV. He has a passion for writing and uses a MacBook pro to for both this and his web designing.
Rick's interests include:
- writing for articles and the web
- web design and technology
- photography (Rick owns a digital SLR camera)
- outdoor activities
Sir Francis Bacon's quote of "Knowledge is power" has been Rick's life ethos and mantra.
HIV not only affects the person who has the virus but also family members, relatives and friends are affected.
"We have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life. What more have we to give one another than our 'truth' about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how?"
- Rabbi Saul Rubin
Disclosure to his children and their school
Rick disclosed his HIV status to his eldest daughter when she was 9 years old. She knows it is an infection that is in the blood. She also knows that it is not spread by casual contact.
His 8 year old daughter knows that Rick has HIV and has always been told he got sick from a "mosquito bite". Both girls now know that HIV is a bloodborne virus. His youngest daughter naturally has fears of him dying.
Rick's ex-wife told the children's school principal about him having HIV. The school has been extremely supportive and it has proven to be a great strategy to support his daughters.
Rick wants his daughters to have a happy childhood and a very positive future.
The plans for 2012
Rick is enrolled in a Masters of Human Rights part-time. He is also planning to undertake an Advanced Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety. Since 2003 Rick has worked in OH&S and intends to build on his previously completed Diploma in OH&S. The Masters is being undertaken out of interest. People who live with HIV are routinely subjected to human rights violations.