Our primary blogger for this site is Rick. This year (2012) Rick has been living with HIV for 24 years. He was infected at the age of 16 years old.
Rick is an Aboriginal man from the Gamilaraay language group for North West New South Wales. As a child Rick was exposed to violence and abuse from within his family and from people known to his family. At the age of 10 years old Rick was temporily placed into to out of home care.
Rick is the father of 2 HIV negative daughters and was married to a HIV negative woman for nearly 13 years.
Inspite of this Rick commenced a career in nursing in the early 1990's. He was exposed to nursing patients who had an AIDS diagnosis when he was working at St Vincents Hospital in Sydney.
Later Rick specialised as an emergency, ICU and remote area nurse.
In 2003 Rick (who was not on HIV medications) developed AIDS with a diagnosis of AIDS Dementia Complex. He was admitted to a major metropolitan hospital where he was commenced on HIV antiretroviral medications. The insideous nature of the onset of AIDS Dementia Complex occured over about 3 months. Rick lost around 30% of his body weight over that time. He also developed cognitive issues as well as ataxia (unstable walking). His lowest ever CD4 count was around 340. For the last 5-6 years his CD4 counts have been inexcess of 1000.
At that point in time he was exposed to highly aggressive discrimination from his employer. He was working for a rural health service and was forced to relocate back to a metropolitan area.
Rick to about a year off work to faciltate his recovery. Once suitably recovered he commence work as an Occupational Health and Safety practitioner. He was also working as an educator in the health industry.
In 2006-7 he and his family moved to South Australia. Rick has continued his education by obtaining the following qualfications:
- Diploma in OH&S
- Diploma in Business
- Diploma in Paramedical Science (Ambulance)
- and many other indusry qualifications
He has commenced another university qualification this year (2012).
Rick is a firm believer that education improves outcomes for peope and has a tattoo that says in Latin "Knowledge is Power". That saying has been attribuated to Sir Frances Bacon in the 1500's. Rick is passionate about education, human rights, and indigenous rights. He also has a few tattoos that are reflective of his life.
For Rick 2012 is a celebration of him turning 40 years old and being a survivor.